March 8, 2017
This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Say so long to Sea Grant in a Trump budget. More on big cuts that affect fisheries after this –
NOAA, the Commerce Department agency in charge of fisheries management, weather forecasts, atmosphere and ocean research, and the Coast Guard is set for massive cuts under Donald Trump.
The Washington Post reported reports that research stands to lose 26 percent of its budget, satellite data cuts at 22 percent and five percent each for fisheries programs and the National Weather Service. The plan also eliminates the 50 year old Sea Grant program and its network of 33 training and research programs across the country.
Carol Kaynor, a Sea Grant communications specialist at the University of Alaska/Fairbanks, found out about the cuts via Facebook.
“I was thinking this is crazy. Sea Grant has such a huge return on investment. Why would you cut a program that has a major return on investment when you’re trying to grow the economy? It doesn’t make sense.”
Alaska Sea Grant trains people to monitor coastal erosion, climate change impacts, conduct fisheries research, to name a few. Alaska director, Paula Cullenberg, also was shocked to find out about the funding cut.
“Maybe this was an easy mark and it was something on a spreadsheet that looked available. As far as I know there wasn’t any in-depth analysis around that.”
The cuts would be in effect at the start of the next fiscal year in October. Cullenberg says she’s hopeful funding will be restored.
“You know, it feels like a bit of a blow. A lack of confidence for sure or a lack of support by the administration. I can’t say I’m confident but I’m certainly hopeful.”
Trump said the cuts are a tradeoff to “prioritize rebuilding the military.” Meanwhile, he proposed to cut the Coast Guard budget by one billion dollars.
Thanks to the assist from the Alaska Energy Desk.