Dana Morse, an aquaculture researcher at Maine Sea Grant, checks on ear-hung scallops tied to an anchor chain on a mussel raft on the Damariscotta River in September. The Maine Sea Grant College Program has received a grant of nearly $600,000. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

The Maine Sea Grant College Program will receive $574,691 from the federal government under a funding stream that President Trump proposed eliminating this year.

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King of Maine made the announcement Friday about the award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that “will be used to advance sustainable use and environmental conservation efforts along Maine’s coast led by the University of Maine.”

“Thousands of Mainers in our state’s coastal communities rely on fishing, lobstering, and other ocean-related industries for their livelihoods,” the senators said in a statement. “The National Sea Grant program has helped these businesses thrive by funding critical research that helps us better understand, utilize, and protect one of our state’s natural resources, and we are heartened by its continued partnership with the University of Maine.”

In February, NOAA’s Sea Grant Program was among several federal programs targeted by Trump for cuts in his proposed budget. Broad bipartisan support saved the program, which received $65 million in this year’s final federal budget – $2 million more than its previous appropriation.

“These funds will help fill critical gaps in our understanding of how lobsters are responding to changing environmental conditions in the Northeast, and will help to ensure that Maine’s marine economy will continue to thrive,” said Beth Bisson, interim director of the Maine Sea Grant Program at the University of Maine. “We look forward to working with lobster scientists, the Maine Department of Marine Resources, the Maine lobster industry, and our Sea Grant and resource agency partners throughout the region to make sure that the funds will help answer the most urgent research questions and inform future management,”

The University of Maine is one of 33 NOAA Sea Grant programs throughout the coastal and Great Lakes states and has benefited significantly from the program. It has helped fund research to support commercial fisheries and other ocean-based industries in Maine.

Sea Grant researchers also created the Fishermen’s Forum, the industry’s premier event, in 1976, and helped found the Portland Fish Exchange, the University of Maine’s Lobster Institute – which researches issues of concern to the industry – and the removal of dams and restoration of fish habitat in the Penobscot River watershed.

Collins and King were among a group of senators who signed a letter urging the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies to provide full funding for the program.

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

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