Sequester cuts to NOAA will hurt fishing & shipping industries


Sequester cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA] would affect the agency’s work on fisheries management, marine commerce, and severe weather warnings.

If sequestration – or the $1.2 trillion across-the-board cuts to the discretionary budget – takes effect on March 1, NOAA would be forced to place nearly 2,600 employees on temporary unpaid leaves. In addition, the agency would let go 1,400 private contractors and leave about 2,700 positions unfilled.

“If sequestration is enacted, NOAA will face the loss of highly trained technical staff,” wrote Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank to the Senate Appropriations Committee. “There would be significant impacts in NOAA’s ability to meet its mission to preserve Americans’ property, protect lives, prepare for extreme weather events, adapt to a changing world, and to enhance economic prosperity.”

For example, the furloughs would mean fewer fish stock assessments conducted by NOAA. This would hurt the fishing industry in New England, the Gulf states, West Coast, and Alaska because “NOAA will be forced to manage fisheries throughout the nation more conservatively, which could mean smaller quotas and earlier closures as protections against overfishing.”

“The economic impacts of these measures are unknowable at this point but could be significant,” Blank warned.

Sequester cuts would hinder the agency’s ability to provide nautical charts and important real-time information, such as tide and water levels, to prevent ships from grounding. These cuts would increase the dangers of marine transportation, affecting a $1 trillion industry that creates 13 million American jobs.

The loss of highly-trained technical staff combined with the delayed launch of next generation weather satellites would “significantly increas[e] forecast errors.”

“The government’s ability to warn Americans across the country about high impact weather events, such as hurricanes and tornadoes, will be compromised,” wrote Blank. This could lead to untimely evacuation orders, jeopardizing the safety of Americans living in disaster-prone areas.

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4 Comments on “Sequester cuts to NOAA will hurt fishing & shipping industries

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