Oceana, the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans, issued the following statement today after the announcement of President Obama’s new budget for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):
“Today President Obama announced that he is increasing the budget for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) by $165 million, to a total of $5.179 billion. Unfortunately, only $30 million of that increase is going towards programs that are important to the direct health of our oceans, while the budget for satellites and other weather-related programs was increased by $150 million. It should not be a tradeoff.
NOAA’s ability to properly manage healthy and productive oceans is being diminished by inadequate funding. Failure to properly fund our oceans and natural resources is short-sighted, even in these trying economic times. Money spent now will result in healthy and productive oceans in the future that support our economy and American jobs.
Currently, ocean activities such as tourism and recreation contribute more than $246 billion annually to the nation's economy, and more than 2.5 million jobs in the United States directly depend on our oceans.
Under the new budget, the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) funding was decreased by $19 million. NMFS programs are essential to healthy oceans, as they provide for the management and conservation of the nation's living marine resources, including fish stocks, marine mammals and endangered species and their habitats.
Oceana is particularly concerned that this decrease to NMFS will not allow NOAA to address important threats to our oceans, including destruction of coastal and marine habitats, depletion of fish stocks, ocean acidification, seafood fraud and by-catch of sea turtles and other threatened and endangered species. NOAA needs adequate funding to ensure that fisheries are managed in a responsible way with adequate observers, scientifically sound stock assessments and data collection, monitoring and enforcement.”