Alaska Sea Grant in the News

Congress reauthorizes Sea Grant, boosts funding

Alaska program studies limited entry, fisheries abundance

Date: March 3, 1998
Contact: Ron Dearborn, Director, Alaska Sea Grant, 907-474-7086

FAIRBANKS, Alaska--The Alaska Sea Grant College Program received good news this month when Congress voted unanimously to reauthorize the nation's Sea Grant programs through 2003.

The "Sea Grant Reauthorization Act" continues for five years the popular nationwide program that brings university research to bear on issues affecting the ocean and Great Lakes resources.

The reauthorization also recommends an appropriation of $64.8 million to Sea Grant next year, an increase of nearly $8 million over the current year. The funding will be divided among the 29 state Sea Grant programs through a competitive review process.

"The bottom line is that Congress thinks Sea Grant should have more money next year than this year," said Lee Stevens, a Sea Grant spokesperson in Washington, D.C. "There was unanimous support for Sea Grant and agreement that Sea Grant uses the taxpayers dollars for worthwhile purposes."

Alaska's Sea Grant College Program is located at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. The program's current year budget of $1.3 million is funding economic studies of commercial, sport and subsistence fisheries, basic and applied marine and fisheries research, and projects aimed at improving seafood quality. Some specific projects are:

  • An economic assessment of the Kenai Peninsula sport halibut fishery.

  • A feasibility study to determine whether monitoring ocean currents along the coast of the Gulf of Alaska can be used to understand and predict commercial fisheries abundance.

  • A study to improve the quality of salmon harvested near terminal spawning areas.

  • Continued studies of the health of Steller sea lions and harbor seals.

Alaska Sea Grant Director Ron Dearborn said Alaska Sea Grant's research centers on two major program goals: understanding the natural and human-caused changes in the North Pacific Ocean, and maximizing the value of the state's seafood production.

"Wise decisions about these resources require a lot of scientific understanding and public involvement in the issues," said Dearborn. He emphasized that providing useful information to policy makers, industry and the general public is a primary mission of the program.

Sponsors of S. 927, "Sea Grant Reauthorization Act," were Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans and Fisheries, and Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-South Carolina), who is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Sen. Ted Stevens, (R-Alaska), cosponsored the bill. On the House side, the bill was sponsored by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who chairs the Committee on Resources, and Rep Jim Saxton (R-New Jersey), and their democratic counterparts Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) and Rep. George Miller (D-California). There were 107 House cosponsors.

For a summary of Alaska Sea Grant's research projects for 1998-1999, call (907) 474-6707, or check out the project summary page on the web at

The Alaska Sea Grant College Program is a marine research, education and outreach service headquartered at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. It is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in partnership with the state of Alaska and private industry.

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