Why Trump’s Budget is Bad News for NJ Fishermen, Clammers and Shore Towns
On the chopping block in an early summary of President Donald Trump's 2018 budget proposal is all of the funding currently devoted to dozens of organizations in the U.S. — including one in New Jersey — that focus on research and education about the coastline and marine environment.
The president's "skinny budget," revealed on Thursday, includes the elimination of all funding for the nation's Sea Grant programs. There are 33 nationwide, including the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium, a nonprofit that's been around for more than 40 years.
The group's associate director, Peter Rowe, said the majority of its funding comes from the federal government.
"Zeroing out of the budget would be critical," Rowe told the Townsquare News Network. "It would change a lot of what we're able to do."
The real victims, he said, would be the folks who depend on the work they do. Fishermen, clammers and coastal communities use their scientific data to make informed decisions on local sea life and dunes, for example.
"All the research we currently fund would disappear. The research doesn't happen without those federal dollars," he said.
The New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium gets more than $1 million per year in federal funding and must match half of that through partners, grants, donations and fee-based programs such as school field trips to Sandy Hook.
Rowe said the educational efforts of the consortium may be able to continue if all funding dried up, but its summer day camps and "Oceans to Go!" program also count on federal dollars for support.
Rowe noted there's a long budget process before anything is official come October, and in the meantime, there's a national effort from Sea Grant groups to reverse the current proposal. Constituent letters to Congress, he said, make the best case for maintaining Sea Grant funding.
While they'd also disappear along with federal funding, this year's Ocean Fun Days are still on for May 20 and 21 at Island Beach State Park. Parking and admission is free for a day packed with coastal-centered tours, exhibits, classes and children's activities.
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