NOAA is announcing more than $25 million in recommended funding for 88 projects under the 2014–2015 Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant Program. This is the most significant amount of funding ever granted by NOAA under this decades-old program.
"NOAA is committed to helping communities become more resilient environmentally as well as economically,” said NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D. “These awards will create jobs, increase economic opportunities for fishing communities, improve the kinds of data and observations we collect about the health of our nation’s fisheries and oceans, and make sound investments in mitigating future risk.”
This year’s recommended projects fall into four broad categories:
- Maximizing fishing opportunities and jobs,
- Improving key fisheries observations,
- Increasing the quality and quantity of domestic seafood, and
- Improving fishery information from U.S. territories.
“With projects in every region of the country and in U.S. territories, these grants underscore that communities have different goals and needs across the country and they all have something significant to bring to the table as far as their approach to research and project development,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries. “The grants we are recommending touch every aspect of marine research including socioeconomics, fishing gear and bycatch, aquaculture, fisheries management and the effects of climate.”
Established in 1954, the Saltonstall-Kennedy grants program is designed to address the needs of fishing communities, optimize economic benefits by building and maintaining sustainable fisheries, and increase other opportunities to keep working waterfronts viable.
As in past years, the competition for funding was robust. The agency received 279 applications from state and local governments, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and academia, totaling more than $76 million in requests. Proposals underwent extensive and rigorous technical review, both within the agency and by an external constituent panel, before final agency review, resulting in the list of recommended projects.
“These grants once again underscore NOAA Fisheries’ commitment to addressing the needs of our fishing communities,” said Sobeck.
At this point in the selection process, the application approval and funds obligation is not final. Divisions of NOAA and the Department of Commerce, NOAA’s parent agency, must still give final approval for the projects, and successful applicants will receive funding in the near future.