Conservation on the Chopping Block

Conservation on the Chopping Block

Here at GDEP, we prefer to keep matters of marine science apolitical. However, important scientific research, education, and funding comes from some key governmental organizations. Today, for the second year in a row, one of these vital support systems is on the chopping block.
Marine Mammal Commission Logo
The Marine Mammal Commission (MMC) was established under the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) passed by Congress. The Commission provides “independent, science- based oversight” of the policies and programs underlined in the MMPA, and is the only U.S. government agency to oversee “all science, policy and management actions affecting marine mammals.” MMC-About-Us-Infographic Employing 26 scientists, MMC runs on a budget that costs each American roughly one penny per year.The Commission contributed almost $275,000 to science programs and research grants in 2016. The Commission also synthesizes and distributes yearly reports on the status of marine mammal conservation, and compiles information for the public on important topics such as marine mammal health and strandings, the effects of energy development on marine mammals, and marine mammal interactions with fisheries. As far as agencies go, MMC provides a highly rewarding experience for its employees; in the last two Federal Employee Surveys, MMC ranked number one for overall employee engagement and satisfaction. The current administration published their proposed budget on February 12th, 2018. This budget, for the second year in a row, proposes the defunding and elimination of Marine Mammal Commission. In 2017 alone, the commission funded grants for 7 different scientific research projects. One of these projects aims to develop an inexpensive GPS radio buoy system to quickly notify rescuers when a whale becomes entangled in fishing net, reducing the chance of it becoming seriously injured or stressed from the entanglement. Another project aimed to better monitor and understand the endangered Cuban populations of Antillean manatee. Such projects likely would not be possible without the dedicated contributions and funding of the Marine Mammal Commission. The Marine Mammal Commission contributes directly and indirectly to the conservation of marine mammals through policy oversight, research funding, health monitoring and stranding response, free public education materials and programs, and leading collaborations between agencies and the private sector. MMC creates important and enriching jobs for scientists and leaders with a passion for marine mammals. Finally, MMC helps protect the 16 endangered marine mammal species you see below. All for a penny a year. Worth it? We would say so. That’s our two cents, and we support giving one of them to the Marine Mammal Commission.

For sources used in this blog and additional resources on this topic, please see the Resources page.