Today, President Trump released his proposed budget for funding the federal government for fiscal year 2018. Included in the budget proposal were deep cuts to many ocean programs, which Oceana says would threaten marine life and coastal economies. Many ocean programs fall under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which would be slashed by 16 percent from current funding levels.
Jacqueline Savitz, Oceana’s senior vice president for U.S. Oceans and Global Fishing Watch, released the following statement in response to the proposed budget:
“President Trump’s proposed cuts to ocean-related funding would undermine decades of progress in ocean conservation and the management of fisheries and marine mammal populations.
The president’s proposal would cripple NOAA, the nation’s premier agency for ocean management and research, cutting its funding by nearly $1 billion. Major programs in NOAA would suffer massive cuts: the National Ocean Service would be cut by one-quarter, and Oceanic and Atmospheric Research would be slashed by one-third. Without adequate funding, NOAA would be unable to carry out its mission to understand and predict changes in oceans, coasts, weather and climate; share that knowledge with policymakers and the public; and conserve and manage coastal and marine resources.
The proposed budget completely eliminates funding for the Marine Mammal Commission, an independent federal agency that provides science-based oversight of U.S. and international policies regarding human impacts on marine mammals and their ocean environment. This small, but influential, agency works with ocean industries and government agencies to ensure that protections for marine mammals are as effective—and efficient—as possible. Americans pay only one penny per year to support the Marine Mammal Commission.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) would be impaired in its ability to manage fisheries and ensure conservation of marine mammals and endangered species. Of the cuts to NMFS, nearly 75 percent are to the Fisheries Research and Management program, which would be cut by $22 million from current year funding—reducing funding for fish stock assessments, fisheries observers, data collection, bycatch reduction, and fisheries management, including the regional fishery management councils.
NMFS’s protected species program, which is responsible for the conservation and recovery of marine mammals and threatened or endangered species, would be cut by $7 million from current funding levels. The program already does not have enough funding or personnel to carry out its responsibilities, such as developing recovery plans and ensuring that human impacts to protected species are mitigated.
In the 2017 spending bill, Congress added $1 million to implement a new rule to prevent Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and increase transparency and traceability in the seafood supply chain, but the Trump 2018 budget does not include specific funding for the implementation of this program. The Seafood Import Monitoring Program will require, for the first time ever, some imported seafood at high risk of IUU fishing and seafood fraud to be held to the same standards as domestically caught fish, which will help level the playing field for American fishermen and reduce risk for U.S consumers. Congress must ensure that the Seafood Import Monitoring Program is fully funded.
The Trump administration should recognize that responsible stewardship of our natural resources is good for the U.S. economy, good for the American people, and good for the world.
Oceana will fight to maintain the funds needed to rebuild fisheries and protect marine mammals.
Congress should stand up for the oceans, and reject these devastating cuts that would put many coastal economies and jobs at risk.”