Final 2018 budget increases funding for Sea Grant, aquaculture

The final spending package for fiscal year 2018, passed by Congress on March 22 and signed by Pres. Trump on March 23, provides $65 million for the National Sea Grant College Program, which includes Connecticut Sea Grant and 32 other Sea Grant programs across the country.

The funds for Sea Grant, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association budget, are $2 million above the fiscal 2017 spending package. Originally slated for termination in the President’s budget proposal for 2018, preserving Sea Grant programs received bipartisan support.

Also included in the NOAA 2018 budget is $11.5 million for the Marine Aquaculture Program, also a $2 million increase over last year. Aquaculture is a main focus of CT Sea Grant and many other Sea Grant programs. The funding for Sea Grant and aquaculture were among several programs included in the budget that will benefit Long Island Sound, Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy’s office noted in a statement March 23.

“We are grateful that Congress reinstated science in the federal budget, and the support for programs related to Long Island Sound in particular is very encouraging,” Sylvain De Guise, director of Connecticut Sea Grant, said March 26. “We are particularly thankful for the efforts of Sen. Murphy, who sits on the Appropriations Committee and advocates for Long Island Sound-related programs.”

Both Murphy and Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, have recently led colleagues in the Senate and House in signing letters urging continued support for Sea Grant in fiscal 2019, though the President’s proposal has again proposed terminating the program.

Approval of the final 2018 budget, after several short-term continuing resolutions and two government shutdowns, funds government programs through the end of September.

For fiscal 2018, Connecticut Sea Grant receives about $1.75 million in core federal funds, which will leverage a 50 percent mandatory state match, as well as additional funds from other competitive sources.