Last month Bren Smith, Sean Barrett and Paul Greenberg considered the implications of trimming NOAA’s budget for the New York Times, as was the intent of President Trump at the time. Much of these cutbacks were avoided in a compromise to avoid a government shutdown, but there are still legitimate concerns over funding for NOAA, NMFS and Sea Grant under a Trump administration.
The authors framed their primary concerns around job loss for ocean-based industries. That applies to cutting all Sea Grant programs, of course, but the authors also suggested a NOAA budget cuts would also increase the costs of compliance for pollock fishermen in the form of on-board observer costs: “the financial burden for programs like federal at-sea monitoring will continue to shift onto the shoulders of the last remaining American fishermen.” However Pollock trawlers already pay for their on-board observers, with no additional financial support from NOAA.
American aquaculture was also a concern for the authors. “Aquaculture, the fastest-growing food sector in the world and one of the most promising new industries in the United States, will be crippled by President Trump’s budget cuts.”
Supporting NOAA and NMFS would be beneficial to workers of all types—from researchers studying fish to fishermen, processors, and others in the industry. Supporting the U.S. fishing industry would also improve our seafood deficit, “the second-largest deficit in our trade portfolio, after crude oil.” However, anything related to the EPA might be in the crosshairs by default.
“Cutting NOAA’s budget is a bad idea, both for parents who want their children to realize their full potential and for a president who wants to keep eating his favorite sandwich. And if all that fails to convince, consider this: NOAA tracks storms and wave heights, allowing thousands of fishermen to work safely. Without adequate funding, many could find themselves literally lost at sea.”