July 07, 2017

Senator Hirono Announces Over $1 Million for Hawaii Sea Grant Program

Highlights Program’s Benefits for Coastal Communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) announced today that the University of Hawaii’s Sea Grant College Program (Hawaii Sea Grant) will receive over $1 million in federal funding to support ongoing coastal and marine research, extension, and outreach projects in Hawaii. Administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Sea Grant College Program operates through partnerships between NOAA and university-based systems in 33 coastal states throughout the U.S.

“As an island state, Hawaii’s livelihood is reliant on the health and resilience of our coastal and marine ecosystems,” said Senator Hirono. “Research and conservation efforts conducted by Hawaii Sea Grant play a critical role in addressing ongoing and future coastal and marine resource issues facing our state. I remain committed to protecting core research and extension programs, like Sea Grant, from the harmful budget cuts proposed by the Trump Administration.”

Earlier this year, in response to the Trump Administration’s effort to eliminate the Sea Grant program, Senator Hirono led a bipartisan letter pushing back and explaining how deep cuts to NOAA would disproportionately hurt Hawaii and other coastal states. Senator Hirono also advocated to her Senate colleagues about the benefits of Sea Grant, and her successful advocacy helped to ensure the Trump cuts were rejected and that funding for Sea Grant was included in the recently enacted federal budget law that provides funding through September 30, 2017. Eliminating the Sea Grant program would impact the University of Hawaii and the other 32 coastal universities.

In 2015, Hawaii Sea Grant activities resulted in the restoration of 426 acres of coastal habitat, the use of ecosystem-based approaches by 130 resources managers, 37 communities implementing sustainable development practices and policies, and 70 trainings to improve coastal community resilience. Hawaii Sea Grant created or sustained 46 jobs, leveraged $4 million, educated over 140,000 K-12 students, and supported over 70 undergraduate and graduate students combined.

“Federal funding is critical to Sea Grant's federal-state partnership in connecting the university enterprise to community needs,” said Dr. Darren Lerner, Director of the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program. “Without the historic and continuing support of Senator Hirono and the Hawaii delegation, our ability to magnify our federal funding 2-4 times its original value, to provide research, education and outreach in service to the people of Hawaii and the Pacific, would be lost.” 

Part of a continuing grant funding award, the program received an additional $1 million in January.

To learn more about the program, click here.