|June 19, 2002
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|WASHINGTON, D.C.—SEA GRANT LEGISLATION PASSES HOUSES BY 407 - 2|
| Congressman Faleomavaega
announced today that H.R. 3389, the National Sea Grant College Program
Act Amendments of 2002 passed the House by a vote of 407 – 2.
“The National Sea Grant College Program (Sea Grant) was established in 1966 to improve marine resource conservation and management,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “The program is patterned after the Land Grant College Program and currently there are 30 Sea Grant College programs that represent more than 300 academic institutions.”
“In March of last year, I introduced legislation which would increase authorization for the National Sea Grant College program. Congressman Wayne Gilchrest, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Fisheries, was kind enough to hold a hearing on the matter and subsequently offered H.R. 3389.”
“I am particularly pleased that this amendment offered in the nature of a substitute includes a provision for the U.S. Territories. This provision directs the Secretary of the Commerce to report the administrative, technical and financial assistance provided by the Secretary to the Territories. The provision also directs the Secretary to report the additional actions and activities necessary for those entities to meet the qualifications for Sea Grant designation,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.
“Congressman Underwood and I have worked for some time to bring attention to the unique and singular needs of the U.S. Territories. For most Pacific Islanders, the ocean is our farm and we are in dire need of administrative, technical and financial assistance to develop Sea Grant affiliations within the region.”
“I would also like to note that the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program has been instrumental in assisting Pacific Island communities in developing Sea Grant extension activities and I would like to personally thank Dr. Gordon Grau, Director of the Hawaii Sea Grant Program, for his commitment to our remote communities,” Faleomavaega said.
“For some time, Dr. Grau and I have worked to put in a place a giant clam project in American Samoa using the resources and expertise of Hawaii Sea Grant,” the Congressman continued. “I am pleased that this project will soon be in place and I am also convinced that Sea Grant Hawaii would like to more fully work in partnership with ASCC and other Pacific Island colleges to build regional capacity. However, Sea Grant Hawaii is limited by a lack of resources due to the fact that the National Sea Grant College Program is also strapped for resources.”
“Current funding for the National Sea Grant College program is only about 7% of the equivalent federal funding for the Land Grant College Program. Land Grant receives approximately $900 million in federal funding per year. Sea Grant receives about $62 million. Yet about 54% of our nation’s population lives along our coasts. Despite this, Congress devotes only pennies to marine research.”
“In 1994, the National Research Council review pointed out that Sea Grant has been virtually the only source of funding in the U.S. for marine policy research. Yet on average, there are fewer than seven extension agents per coastal state. In many cases, there is only one extension agent serving a major urban area. For example, in Los Angeles, there is only one extension agent serving 14 million people. In New York City, there is only one serving 12 million people,” the Congressman said.
“Sea Grant funds on an average less than $2 million per state program. Many geographic regions are not represented – including the Western Pacific – which alone has a huge Economic Exclusive Zone. Some states like Mississippi and Alabama share funding while other eligible states like Pennsylvania and Vermont have no institutional Sea Grant programs.”
“If also passed in the Senate and signed into law by the President, the Sea Grant College Program Act Amendments of 2001 will address some of these inequities. This is a move in the right direction and I am hopeful that in due time American Samoa will benefit as a result of this legislation,” the Congressman concluded.
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