President Bush’s proposed budget for FY 2007 continues a trend of reducing funding for ocean research, management and conservation. Despite a strong consensus for building our investments in ocean science, management and protection, the proposed budget cuts funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration by an estimated $169 million (4.3 percent) from current enacted levels.
Increasing investment in our oceans was a principal recommendation of two blue ribbon ocean commissions, which recently finished their multi-year evaluation. Last week, the bipartisan, independent Joint Ocean Commission Initiative (a collaborative effort of members of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and the Pew Oceans Commission) graded the government’s implementation of commission recommendations. Federal efforts to provide new funding for ocean policy and programs received an “F.” The 2007 budget request clearly shows that this Administration is uncommitted to raising its grade and will continue to fail the subject of oceans.
National Marine Fisheries Service The Administration’s budget cut $18 million (a 2.6 percent reduction over FY 06 enacted levels) from the National Marine Fisheries Service, a line office in NOAA responsible for managing fisheries and protected wildlife populations, such as sea turtles and marine mammals. It is shocking that the 2007 request level is smaller than any enacted NMFS budget in the last five years.
Funding to improve data collection, protect and restore fish habitats, promote cleaner fishing gear, end overfishing and protect at-risk sea life is desperately needed. Funding for marine mammal conservation is slashed by 43 percent and sea turtle conservation is cut by 28 percent. On the other hand, there is some good news -- there are slight increases for fishery observers, which provide onboard assessments of wasteful bycatch on fishing vessels; fish stock assessments; and fishery enforcement.
FY 07 proposed: 649 million
FY 06 enacted: 667 million
FY 05 enacted: 824 million
FY 04 enacted: 760 million
FY 03 enacted: 811 million
FY 02 enacted: 713 million
<place w:st="on"><placename w:st="on">National</placename> <placetype w:st="on">Ocean</placetype></place> Service An overall 20.1 percent cut from the National Ocean Service jeopardizes all Americans who enjoy our beaches and coastal waters for swimming, boating, fishing and other recreation. The Administration’s budget cut $99 million from last year’s enacted levels for the National Ocean Service, which is the primary federal agency working to protect and manage <country-region w:st="on"><place w:st="on">America</place></country-region>’s coastal waters and habitats. One of the programs and activities that are targeted for total elimination include: the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation program which has helped many communities purchase sensitive coastal lands. In addition, the coral reef conservation program received a $1 million increase.
FY 07 proposed: $394 million
FY 06 enacted: $493 million
FY 05 enacted: $669 million
FY 04 enacted: $606 million
FY 03 enacted: $498 million
FY 02 enacted: $502 million
Pacific Salmon The Bush Administration budget proposes $578 million to fund the federal salmon plan for the <city w:st="on"><place w:st="on">Columbia</place></city> and Snake rivers. While this reflects an $18 million increase over last year’s enacted level, the federal salmon plan itself has been ruled illegal, in part for failing to address the most significant cause of salmon mortality in the <place w:st="on"><placename w:st="on">Columbia-Snake</placename> <placetype w:st="on">Basin</placetype></place>: dams. Until federal dollars are directed toward meaningful salmon recovery measures, agencies will continue to throw good money after bad in pursuit of technological fixes that are insufficient to reverse declining salmon populations.
Open Rivers Initiative:
We are happy to see money directed to the Open Rivers Initiative, a new presidential initiative announced by the Secretary of Commerce in 2005, which will provide grants to communities and local dam owners to remove their dams that no longer make sense. These restoration projects provide significant environmental improvements and offer noteworthy economic and societal benefits.
Healthy oceans benefit all Americans. Oceans support our nation’s fisheries, shelter wildlife such as sea turtles and whales, are home to delicate coral communities, and sustain coastal economies. By investing in oceans today, we will ensure healthy ecosystems for future generations.