Source: United States Senator for Alaska Lisa Murkowski
Supports Vital Research and Safety Initiatives, Prioritizes Alaska’s Fisheries and Marine Resources
The Senate Appropriations Committee today approved the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations bill. As a member of the committee, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) secured a range of initiatives to improve research and technology in the Arctic, strengthen public safety in rural Alaska, and ensure Alaska’s fisheries continue to thrive. This legislation, which funds the U.S. Department of Commerce and Justice, the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and other agencies, now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
“I continue to hear from Alaskans about the need for improving public safety, especially in rural communities. I’m proud the Committee was able to come together to find bipartisan solutions to build on my ongoing efforts to address the high rates of violence experienced in far too many of Alaska’s communities,” said Senator Murkowski. “Alaska’s world-class fisheries are a fundamental part of our state’s culture and the lifeblood of our economy. The work we’ve done to recover and protect Alaska’s wild salmon stocks and to ensure our fisheries remain the most abundant and sustainably managed in the nation is so important. We’ve also invested significant federal resources into research initiatives to strengthen our ability to respond to natural disasters, help us more fully understand the impacts of climate change, and protect our marine environments—all significant items for a state like Alaska.”
(Note: Numbers are nationwide program funding levels.)
Research and Technology
With maximum input from Alaskans, Senator Murkowski has helped steer the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) budget in a manner that sustains the research and scientific investments needed to manage Alaska’s resources properly and responsibly. This bill includes language directing NOAA’s National Ocean Service to submit a plan to conduct comprehensive coastal survey work in Alaska, including information gaps and estimated costs. In an effort to improve travel and safety for mariners throughout Alaska’s waters, the bill also includes language that provides funding to ensure 80 percent data availability for the National Data Buoy Center’s buoy network and directs NOAA to include a schedule for restoring existing data buoy operability, and its strategy to minimize outages.
Senator Murkowski pushed to establish federal funding and frameworks to improve American’s ability to understand and have a say on our developing priorities in the Arctic Region. This legislation includes $8.3 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF), as well as language directing the NSF to consider the impact of the opening of the two transarctic sea routes and the proximity to deep-water U.S. ports. The bill also includes $160 million for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), which includes $6 million to help us better understand the complex and rapidly changing Arctic region. Building on previous efforts, the bill also contains language to address Hydrographic Survey Priorities in the Arctic.
Senator Murkowski has been working hard to improve public safety in Alaska, including in Alaska’s rural communities. In crafting this bill, she advocated for the largest possible Victims of Crime Act Fund (VOCA) set-aside for Native Communities who disproportionately face violence and often have extremely limited access to services and helped secure $497.5 million for Violence Against Women Prevention and prosecution programs. The bill also includes $38 million for state and local law enforcement and Tribal assistance and $245 million for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, an initiative to increase the number of police officers and ensure they are properly trained, that Murkowski has long-supported.
Alaska’s commercial, sport, and subsistence fisheries are at the heart of coastal Alaska and the economic livelihood for tens of thousands of Alaskans who are employed in the industry. In support of Alaska’s seafood industry, Murkowski helped secure $65 million for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund which helps maintains Pacific Salmon populations and supports both the recovery and protection of all declining stocks. $34.5 million, an increase of $19 million, is also included for salmon management activities, including implementing the Pacific Salmon Treaty terms across the Northwest states.
The bill also includes an amendment by Senator Murkowski and her colleagues to direct increased funding for Fisheries Data Collections, Surveys and Assessments to maintain historic survey coverage in Alaska and the Pacific, a significant provision for areas where fish distribution is changing due to climate change, including Alaska where survey coverage has been on the verge of being eliminated.
Oceans & Coastlines
Senator Murkowski helped secure various priorities to keep our oceans and shorelines healthy and to capitalize on the world’s quickly growing ocean economy. Also, $7 million is provided for the North Pacific Observer Program, which plays a critical role in the management and conservation of the Aleutian Islands, Bering Sea, and Gulf of Alaska. $12 million is included in the funding bill to help understand the growing impacts of ocean acidification on our ocean resources and coastal communities. The funding bill includes $75 million for the National Sea Grant Program which focuses on outreach activities, education, and research that will support the growing coastal community utilization of key Sea Grant services within their numerous focus areas.
For more information on provisions included in the bill to support research and technology, create a safer Alaska, and protect Alaska’s fisheries, oceans, and shorelines, click here.