In January, the White House announced the Obama Administration was cutting the budget for the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) by nearly $300,000.
This cuts come at a time when NOAA is struggling to make timely progress in its recovery from the devastating 2010 BP oil spill.
“Our efforts to support research at our national marine sanctuaries and our scientific endeavors will not be affected by this announcement,” said NOAA Administrator Doug Ericksen in a statement at the time.
Since then, the NMFS has suffered through a number of cuts, including $25 million from NOAA’s Coastal Marine Science Center, which has spent decades funding critical research on the Atlantic right off the coast of Florida.
The agency’s efforts to manage the marine environment are hampered by budget constraints, which have made NOAA more dependent on outside donors than ever.
In an effort to improve NOAA’s funding outlook, NOAA recently announced it would cut $8.8 million from the marine science center.
The NMFS was created in 1946 as part of the Department of the Interior’s National Marine Mammal Commission to support science that would help scientists understand how marine life survives and reproduces.
NMFS is the largest marine science program in the United States.
In addition to supporting research at national marine parks and marine sanctuses, NMFS also works with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure the health of marine mammals.
In recent years, the agency has been making strides in its conservation efforts.
NMFs last two funding cycles saw the creation of two new sites, the Coastal Monitoring and Assessment Center and the Sea-Level Measurement and Remote Sensing Facility, both located off of Cape Cod.
In the past year, the two facilities have increased their monitoring and assessment capacity by 70 percent and the program has been able to improve its ability to identify and track the impacts of climate change.
The agency has also made significant investments in research and development to support NOAA’s work in marine conservation.
In 2016, NOAA awarded a $15 million grant to a consortium of marine scientists led by NOAA scientist Thomas Schubert.
NOAA also partnered with the Marine Mammoth Society of America and the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology to develop a plan to restore and conserve the iconic California sea lions.
This program is being launched in partnership with the California Department of Fish and Game, the state’s marine mammal management office.
NOAA has also partnered on two grants for projects that are focused on improving understanding of how marine mammals migrate, including the study of how sea lions navigate in the wake of a tsunami.
“It is encouraging to see NOAA continuing to pursue its mission to conserve the marine ecosystem and the lives of our wildlife,” said Joe Pertwee, president of the Marine Conservation Society.
“However, this announcement is a reminder that the administration’s climate policies and funding priorities have caused problems for NOAA, our marine scientists, and our country’s natural resources.”
A number of scientists have also expressed their concern over the proposed cuts to NOAA’s marine science programs.
“These proposed cuts will likely affect many of our critical marine science projects,” said James Cramer, a marine scientist with NOAA’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“These funding cuts will impact our ability to conduct important science and data collection that will help us understand how our coastal waters are changing, how the ocean is changing and how we can adapt to changing conditions.”
NOAA’s Ericksens statement does not mention funding reductions for other marine science initiatives, such as NOAA’s Marine Mammals Conservation Program, which focuses on improving the health and viability of California sea lion populations.
The National Marine Conservation Institute, which is led by the late Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), has long advocated for NOAA to maintain funding levels for NOAA’s coastal and marine science.
NOAA previously allocated $12.3 million to the organization in 2016.
NOAA’s proposed budget cut comes as the agency is grappling with the impacts that climate change and a changing ocean have on marine life.
NOAA announced in January that the agency was considering cutting funding for NOAA and its coastal and sea science programs by almost $300 Million in 2019, a cut that will likely impact research in the marine and ocean sciences, including research that focuses on ocean dynamics, marine biology, fisheries, and coastal restoration.