Alaska Sea Grant in Danger of Losing Funding

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Julie Matweyou. Courtesy of Alaska Sea Grant

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

A program which focuses on seafood safety, sustainability, and marine coastal resources both in Alaska and the Lower 48 may lose its federal funding. President Donald Trump struck the program from his Fiscal Year 2018 proposed budget.

Sea Grant has branches spread out across Alaska, including here in Kodiak. Julie Matweyou with Sea Grant’s Marine Advisory Program is a regional agent.

“Each of our regional extension agents works very closely with our communities and the work that we do is tied directly to the needs of our regions. And that’s why, when you look at our program, you see that all of the different MAP agents are doing slightly different work.”

Matweyou studies paralytic shellfish poisoning in Kodiak waters, where PSP is prevalent, and is developing a test to better screen for the toxin, but her reach is wide-ranging in the community.

“I provide AMSEA drill conductor training to our commercial fishing fleet. I also bring relevant training discussion platforms for our fishing community. I’m very involved in ComFish planning. And Sea Grant always posts a ComFish forum or event. As you know, we host the Fisherman’s Showcase and it’s just a really nice way to tie in our community and show off and highlight our fishing fleet.”

Matweyou’s Sea Grant colleagues in Kodiak include several seafood specialists who study seafood microbiology, safety and quality, as well as the development of new ways to use seafood products like salmon skin.

Senators and representatives both in the state and down south have expressed a desire to see Sea Grant funded next year.

According to the Sea Grant website, Senator Lisa Murkowski contributed to a resolution in support of the program and Representative Don Young signed off on a letter which urged the House Appropriations Committee to continue funding.

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