From: The Honorable James R. Langevin
Sent By:
peter.lafountain@mail.house.gov

Date: 3/23/2017

Support NOAA’s Wet Programs: Join Bipartisan Langevin-Young FY18 Letter

Deadline: March 30, 2017

Dear Colleague:

Please join us in supporting the science-based work of NOAA, particularly its “wet side” pertaining to our oceans, coasts, Great Lakes, and maritime industry. At a time when the entire value of NOAA is being questioned by the new Administration, we particularly
need to highlight the importance of NOAA’s work to bolster the health of our waters and support the jobs connected to them.

This is a comprehensive CJS request letter in support of numerous missions on NOAA’s “wet side.” These programs include: National Ocean Service; National Marine Fisheries Service; Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research; Mission Support: Procurement,
Acquisition, and Construction; and other discretionary accounts.

These programs have a tremendous multiplier effect on the American economy. They affect millions of Americans and help us protect our valuable coastal and marine resources.

If you have questions or would like to sign onto this letter, please contact Peter La Fountain (peter.lafountain@mail.house.gov) with Rep. Langevin, or Martha Newell (martha.newell@mail.house.gov)
with Rep. Young.

 

Sincerely,

James R. Langevin                                          Don Young

Member of Congress                                       Member of Congress

 

 

April XX, 2017

 

The Honorable John Culberson

Chairman

Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

U.S. House Committee on Appropriations

H-310 The Capitol

Washington, DC 20515

 

The Honorable José Serrano

Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

U.S. House Committee on Appropriations

1016 Longworth House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

 

Dear Chairman Culberson and Ranking Member Serrano:

We are writing to request that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) oceans, coastal, and Great Lakes programs continue to receive robust funding in the FY 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations bill.

The science-based work of NOAA is extensive and varied, including weather observations and space data systems. In this letter, we call your attention to the work done by the “wet side” of NOAA. We request that you carefully look at the overall level of NOAA
program funding and ensure that these programs receive an equitable proportion of the agency’s funding.

Many of us represent coastal districts with direct benefits from the ocean and coastal observing, science, and management programs under NOAA’s “wet side”. These programs collect and disseminate environmental intelligence in many ways. They address storms,
flooding, commercial port congestion, navigation hazards, shoreline erosion, and pollution. Additionally, they support weather forecasting, marine and aquatic operations, climate monitoring, and ecosystem tracking. The federal investment here is essential,
not replicable outside of NOAA.

Additionally, extreme weather events have pummeled the United States in recent years, providing a stark reminder that our coastal areas are especially vulnerable to such hazards. This illustrates why adequate funding for NOAA programs is necessary to protect
coastal habitats, provide services to translate science for resource users, and otherwise support coastal communities.

Investing in NOAA’s “wet side” also supports the expansive ocean economy. In 2013, maritime economic activities such as shipping, marine construction, energy development, commercial fishing, recreational fishing and boating, and tourism contributed $360
billion to the national economy and supported 3 million jobs. NOAA’s ocean science and management programs serve as the foundation for these economic sectors.

Our economy depends on a healthy ocean, and a healthy ocean depends on robust funding for these NOAA “wet programs.” As you craft your FY 2018 appropriations bill, we respectfully request that the following programs
be prioritized with the robust funding necessary to capably fulfill their missions:

 

National Ocean Service (NOS)

Marine Debris Program – $10M

The Marine Debris Program conducts reduction, prevention, and research activities, and supports grants, partnerships, and contracts to address marine debris. Marine debris, particularly plastic waste pollution, has become one of the most widespread pollution
problems facing the world’s oceans and waterways. It has serious effects on the marine environment, causing impacts from wildlife entanglement, ingestion and ghostfishing. It can also have economic impacts by contributing to navigational hazards and vessel
damage. More research is needed in these critical areas to support data-driven policy solutions to prevent plastic from entering the environment.

To evaluate, track, and clean up debris, we request at least $10 million in funding, as part of the Coastal Science, Assessment, and Response and Restoration budget line.

Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) – $42.6M

IOOS is a national network of 11 regional observing system, led by NOAA’s National Ocean Service. IOOS provides the ability to understand what happens above and below the surface. Its observations inform maritime stakeholders, and its operations coordinate
data sharing among the national IOOS network. IOOS utilizes cutting edge observation technology that supports navigation, environmental protection, fisheries management, and other offshore uses.

  • Regional Observations – $35.9M

The Regional IOOS line funds several distinct activities, including competitive base funding for the regional systems, operation of the high frequency radar surface currents mapping system, and technology innovation grants.

IOOS provides the nation with enhanced coastal and Great Lakes observing and forecasting capabilities. Regional systems, working with NOAA and other Federal agencies, address specific needs of stakeholders, including maritime commerce, fisheries, offshore
energy, public health, ocean acidification, and preparation for extreme weather events. IOOS data are available in near-real time, as well as retrospectively, and support a variety of missions.

Real-time applications of the data include tracking oil spills, assisting in search and rescue, ensuring safe and efficient marine operations, monitoring nutrient pollution that can help predict harmful algal blooms, and assessing the fate and transport
of land runoff and offshore discharges. Long-term data sets inform our understanding of regional climate impacts and the effectiveness of management decisions.

  • Navigation, Observations and Positioning – $6.7 M

The national IOOS Program Office oversees the integration and coordination of data from the 17 Federal agencies and 11 regional systems to ensure seamless access to information in an efficient and effective manner.

National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) – $27M

We are requesting $27 million for National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) operations, to meet the basic requirements of operating the growing number of reserve sites and the products the program delivers.

This year’s requested $4 million increase over the current program baseline will secure a graduate student at each site, and enhance the reserve capacity to collect and deliver information to help communities manage a changing shoreline.  Support of this
program will contribute to healthier estuaries and local economies, by improving the management of estuaries, an essential part of reducing community vulnerability to hazards.

NERRS impacts wetlands management in numerous states. These coastal reserves are essential to maintaining balanced habitats and protecting our way of life in these parts of the country. Moreover, the educational benefits through NERRS of these programs provide
benefits many times over in helping future generations better understand coastal ecology.

By protecting estuaries and coasts, NERRS reduces community vulnerability to hazards, supports the nation’s coastal economy, and provides robust, credible scientific research.

Coastal Management Grants – $90.6M

We request $90.6 million in total for the Coastal Management Grants programs, encompassing the Coastal Zone Management Grants and Regional Coastal Resilience Grants. This request begins to restore funding of these programs to levels necessary to maintain
the state coastal programs. These state and territorial grants provide funding to facilitate the coordination necessary to maintain the viability of our coasts and their resources. The grants are matched by the states, and leverage additional local and private
investment.

In particular, we request that $20 million be allocated to the Regional Coastal Resilience Grants program. This program provides competitive grants to address risks of weather events, hazards, and changing ocean conditions to regions and local communities,
in order to protect livelihoods, economies, and habitats. These grants will help states, communities, and other stakeholders produce on-the-ground results that benefit both the economy and the environment, including cutting edge science and tools like maps
and surveys.

Coastal Zone Management and Services – $53.8M

We request $53.8 million for Coastal Zone Management and Services, which is the administrator of national programs that manage and conserve ocean and coastal resources, including the Coastal Zone Management (CZM) program. Coastal Zone Management and Services
are critical components of NOAA’s on-the-ground activities and ensure consistency and collaboration through state, local and federal activities.

Sanctuaries and Marine Protected Areas: Operations, Research and Facilities (ORF) – $57M

America’s National Marine Sanctuary System conserves some of the Nation’s most critical natural, historic and cultural resources, preserves more than 300 shipwrecks and our nation’s maritime heritage, and promotes public access for exploration and world-class
outdoor recreation, education, and enjoyment for future generations. Sanctuaries generate $8 billion annually in local economies, and support numerous jobs and businesses in the fishing, tourism, recreation, and scientific research sectors.

We request an investment of $57 million to drive visitation and growth, increase community engagement, conduct cooperative research, and enable sanctuaries to respond to the groundswell of communities nationwide seeking to expand sites or propose and designate
new ones.

 

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)

Fisheries Data, Collections, Surveys and Assessments – $164.7M

We request robust funding for the Fisheries Data, Collections, Surveys and Assessments budget line. This includes the following critical programs:

  • Cooperative Research

Cooperative research enables commercial and recreational fishermen to become involved in collecting fundamental fisheries information to support the development and evaluation of management options. Industry and other stakeholders can partner with NMFS and
university scientists in all phases of the research program – planning the survey, conducting research, analyzing data, and communicating results. This will improve the quality of stock assessments with biological and physical observations that are unavailable
through other NMFS resources.

Current cooperative research activities complement existing NMFS monitoring programs nationwide by providing access to platforms (recreational and commercial fishing vessels) widely distributed over a variety of habitats simultaneously, including areas not
accessible to NOAA vessels. The information collected through cooperative research programs assists scientists and managers by supplementing the data currently collected through federal research programs. This information improves the information base for
single species, multi-species, and ecosystem assessment models and ultimately improves the evaluation of stock status and the management of fishery resources.

  • Expand Annual Stock Assessments

Stock assessments are an essential part of responsible and productive fishery management. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), fishery managers set annual catch limits to maximize long-term sustainable output. Appropriate
catch limits can only be set when the health of a fish stock is determined through a stock assessment. In the absence of good data, annual catch limits must be set at highly restrictive levels to account for uncertainty. Many fisheries are currently considered
data-poor.

NMFS funds stock assessments primarily through the Expand Annual Stock Assessments (EASA) and Survey and Monitoring budget lines. Strong funding for EASA will enable NMFS to expand implementation of the Next Generation Stock Assessments (NGSAs) which incorporates
ecosystem factors affecting key stocks, using advanced technologies to better inform fishery management. This funding will allow NOAA to strengthen its stock assessment capacity in each region.

  • Fishery Information Networks

The key data programs for the nation are funded through the Fishery Information Networks. These include the commercial fishery data program for the West Coast (PACFIN); the commercial fishery data program for the North Pacific (AKFIN); and the recreational
fishery data program (RECFIN). These are joint federal-state programs designed to collect, assimilate, and distribute baseline fisheries data. The information is used by the North Pacific and Pacific Fishery management councils, NOAA Fisheries, the West Coast
States, and the U.S.-Canada Pacific Salmon Commission to manage annual fishing seasons.

  • Survey and Monitoring Projects

These are long-term stock assessments used to manage fisheries throughout the nation. For the West Coast, these include West Coast groundfish; the Alaska crab fisheries; Alaska Pollock and groundfish, rockfish, halibut, and sablefish. Both the Pacific Fishery
Management Council and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council rely upon these surveys to determine annual catch limits and monitor the health of these stocks.

Regional Councils and Fisheries Commissions – $34.3M

The Regional Fishery Management Councils (RFMCs) are the workhorses of the Federal regulatory process for marine fisheries. Each RFMC is working to revise fishery management plans under its jurisdiction to end overfishing and rebuild fish stocks. This line
item also funds the Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Fisheries Management Act, a fisheries management program directed at interjurisdictional fisheries on the East Coast and administered by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.

Enforcement – $70.9M  

In recent years, NOAA has invested increasing resources to detect and deter Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and enforce import restrictions on illegally harvested and improperly-documented seafood. Global losses attributable to IUU fishing
are estimated to be between $10.0 and $23.0 billion annually, weakening profitability for legally caught seafood, fueling illegal trafficking operations, and undermining food security in the developing world.

This request supports the Action Plan for Implementing the IUU Task Force recommendations. The plan identifies actions that will strengthen enforcement; create and expand partnerships with state and local governments, industry, and non-governmental organizations;
and create a risk-based traceability program to track seafood from harvest to point of entry into U.S. commerce. Actions include the use of existing traceability mechanisms to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud, as well as the operational standards related
to collecting, verifying, and securing those data.

Observers and Training – $45.1M  

Fisheries observer programs are proven, unbiased, and valuable sources of information on our nation’s fisheries, and help combat IUU. The scientific data collected by observer programs provide critical inputs for population assessments of threatened and
endangered species such as sea turtles, seabirds, and marine mammals, the data are also vital and for effective management of fish stocks. Observers monitor fishing activities for 53 fisheries across all five NMFS regions, and collect data on fishing practices,
vessel and gear characteristics, fishing locations and times, environmental conditions within fishing grounds, catch and bycatch, and fisherman socio-economic status.

Habitat Conservation and Restoration – $68.4M

These programs support efforts to protect and restore coastal and marine habitats, to rebuild commercial and recreational fisheries, recover species, and improve the resiliency of coastal communities. Habitat loss and degradation directly threaten the sustainability
of our nation’s fisheries and the communities that depend on a healthy coast. Funding for habitat restoration, including through the Community-Based Restoration Program (CBRP), directly confronts these challenges. Through public-private collaboration with
states, localities, citizens’ organizations, businesses, and colleges and universities, CBRP accomplishes on-the-ground projects to restore the nation’s coastal, marine, and migratory fish habitats.

Interjurisdictional Fisheries Grants – $3M

These grants support the monitoring and assessment programs of the States and Interstate Commissions, as well as funding for research to gauge the health of commercially and recreationally important fish stocks. The IJFA is a matching grant program. Funds
received by states are matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis. This is a successful example of an effective and affordable federal-state partnership, designed specifically for the management of nearshore fisheries with interjurisdictional boundaries. These funds
are also used to combat the spread of marine invasive species.

Salmon Management Activities – $33.2M

This account supports many important salmon management activities on the West Coast and Alaska. These activities include the operation and maintenance of the Mitchell Act hatcheries; the mark and coded wire tag programs; the Pacific Salmon Treaty and the
Chinook Salmon Agreement; and ongoing work to establish a genetic stock identification database.

Salmon management in the West is at a critical juncture. It is imperative we maintain these core programs. This funding will help meet obligations faced by the Pacific Salmon Commission as well as growing demands on the Mitchell Act hatchery system to meet
production goals while implementing hatchery reforms.

ESA Salmon – $69.6M 

This program strives to recover and sustain all threatened and endangered salmon populations to maintain healthy ecosystems. We urge that this program be funded at $63.4 million to Pacific Salmon and $6.2 million to Atlantic Salmon for FY 2018.

 

Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR)

National Sea Grant College Program – $80M

$80 million is requested for the National Sea Grant College Program for research, education, extension, and outreach activities. Our only national research outreach and education program addressing environmental issues in communities, the National Sea Grant
College Program leverages federal dollars to support smart economic growth. Sea Grant is fundamental to preparing communities for major coastal catastrophes like hurricanes and oil spills, preserving working waterfronts and coastal heritage, and advancing
tourism that is vital to our coastal economies.

The national Sea Grant College Program also administers the Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship, which has a legacy of providing a unique educational experience to students who have an interest in ocean, coastal, and Great lakes resources and the
national policy decisions that affect them. This indispensable fellowship matches graduate students with host offices in the legislative and executive branch of government, and empowers the fellows to translate their marine science expertise to inform legislation,
policy, and management.

In 2015-16 the Sea Grant program helped generate an estimated $575 million in economic impacts; created or sustained nearly 21,000 jobs; provided 33 state-level programs and 534 communities with technical assistance on sustainable development practices;
worked with about 1,300 industry, local, state and regional partners; and supported the education and training of almost 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students.  The Sea Grant program achieved this with a Congressional appropriation in FY 2016 of $73 million,
which is leveraged with matching funds provided by states, universities, and other sources.?

Integrated Ocean Acidification Program – $21.8M

It is imperative that we understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment as a consequence of continued acidification of the oceans and Great Lakes, so that we may conserve and manage marine organisms and ecosystems in response to these changes.
The Integrated Ocean Acidification Program researches and monitors the effects of changing ocean chemistry on economically and ecologically important ecosystems and species. Negative impacts to shellfish fisheries have already been observed, and are resulting
in losses to the fishermen and farmers that rely on these animals.

Increased federal funding support for this program is critical to allow NOAA to keep existing programs running. The negative consequences of ocean acidification on marine life are just beginning to be understood. This funding will allow continued assessment
of acidification effects on commercial and recreational marine species, allowing NOAA to take concrete actions to more effectively tackle the economic and local implications of ocean acidification, and prepare future strategies to protect our nation’s key
ocean and coastal economies.

 

Procurement, Acquisition, and Construction (PAC)

NERRS (PAC) – $1.7M

We request $1.7 million for National Estuarine Research Reserve Construction for land conservation and facilities to maintain, upgrade, and construct reserve facilities and acquire priority lands. This competitive funding program is matched by state funds
and has resulted not only in the preservation of critical coastal lands, but also an increase in construction jobs. For example, NERRS creates more than 60 jobs for each $1 million of federal construction (PAC) money spent. In addition, NERRS leveraged investments
of more than $114 million to purchase over 30,000 acres of coastal property over the last 13 years.

Marine Sanctuaries Construction: Procurement, Acquisition, Construction (PAC) – $8.5M

Every dollar of public investment in sanctuaries stimulates a greater return on investment for our communities.  Sanctuaries generate $8 billion annually and support numerous jobs and businesses in the fishing, tourism, recreation, and scientific research
sectors. Sanctuary visitor centers, vessels, and facilities are key assets for communities. They stimulate public-private partnerships on emerging technologies, cutting edge science, and hands-on education. They also attract millions of visitors to the coasts
each year.

We request $8.5 million to replace vessels needed for mission-critical operations, address a backlog of needs for sanctuary visitor centers, and make progress on compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

 

Mission Support

NOAA Education Program (B-WET and ELG) – $20M

We respectfully urge the funding of $20 million for the Bay-Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) and Environmental Literacy Grant programs (ELGs). Both programs enable students to learn about our ocean environment and instill lifelong commitment to the
importance of ocean stewardship. Experiential learning outside the classroom is essential in engaging students in their local ocean environment.

B-WET provides local environmental education for K-12 students and professional development for educators through Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs). MWEEs are multi-stage activities that include learning both outdoors and in the classroom,
and aim to increase understanding and stewardship of watersheds and related ocean, coastal, riverine, estuarine, and Great Lakes ecosystems.

The ELGs provide funding for national-scale education projects to increase environmental stewardship and informed decision-making for public and K-12 audiences. According to NOAA, in 2015 the program helped more than 100 science education institutions, 200,000
youth and adult learners, and 2,000 formal and informal educators.

 

Other Accounts (Discretionary)

National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund – $10M

Established by Congress in the FY16 Consolidated Appropriations Act, the National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund will provide grants to support projects that enhance the understanding, resiliency, and restoration of the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes.
The Fund is administered by NOAA and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and supports a national competitive grant program as well as grants to coastal states.  Through the Fund, present and future generations will benefit from the full range of economic,
ecological, cultural, nutritional, security, and recreational services these resources can provide.

Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund – $65M

The Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund (PCSRF) was established by Congress in FY 2000 to protect, restore, and conserve Pacific salmonids and their habitats. The PCSRF awards proposals on a competitive basis to promote the recovery and sustainability of
wild salmon and steelhead stocks in the states of Oregon, Washington, California, Alaska, and Idaho.

Continued support for PCSRF at this level is necessary to continue significant progress in protecting and restoring this important species of fish, which is critical to the economic and ecological well-being of the Pacific Northwest.

In conclusion, these NOAA activities support critical ocean conservation, protection, research, exploration, and education. They also facilitate America’s trade and commerce, promote leisure and recreation, and put healthy, sustainable seafood on our tables.

Healthy oceans sustain life. We urge you to fund ocean and coastal programs in a manner befitting their economic role sustaining millions of American lives and livelihoods.

Thank you for your consideration of our request.

 

Sincerely,

 

James R. Langevin                                         Don Young

Member of Congress                                      Member of Congress