Murkowski’s Appropriations Work Strengthens Alaska’s Communities, Fisheries

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations bill, which contains several priorities U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski secured for Alaska. As a member of this subcommittee, Murkowski included provisions to strengthen Alaska’s fisheries and support justice services and law enforcement efforts throughout the state.

“The funds contained in this bill support a wide array of key programs in Alaska—including components to help sustainably maintain our world-class fisheries, keep our waters safe for mariners and fisherman, and improve the quality of life in our rural communities,” said Senator Murkowski. “In a time of much financial uncertainty in the state, these dollars will go a long way.”

Sustainable Management of Alaska’s Fisheries

  • Senator Murkowski supported robust funding levels for:
    • Data collection, surveys and assessments: $163.8 million.
    • Regional councils and fisheries commissions: $34.2 million, approximately $1 million above last year.
    • Salmon management activities: $31.5 million and $12 million for the Pacific Salmon Treaty. Murkowski also secured report language directing NOAA to report all fees charged by the agency when handling money appropriated to the Pacific Salmon Treaty, due to concerns over excessive overhead charges.
    • Electronic monitoring and reporting: Advancements in electronic monitoring and reporting have the potential to cut costs and improve data collection for U.S. fisheries. Murkowski secured report language that directs the National Marine Fisheries Services to prioritize electronic monitoring and reporting and expedite to the fullest extent possible the transition to full electronic monitoring.
  • Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund: Provides $65 million, $5 million above last year, to restore Pacific salmon populations. 
  • National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) –Alaska Region: Murkowski secured report language directing NOAA to report costs associated with the travel of personnel to and from Alaska to conduct fisheries, marine mammal, and habitat research.
  • NOAA Fish Watch: Murkowski secured report language prohibiting NOAA from adopting, using, or promoting any third-party certification scheme for seafood sustainability and instead continue providing consumers with independent and accountable information generated within NOAA.

Making Alaska’s Waterways and Coasts Safe and Navigable

  • Navigation, Observing and Positioning – Hydrographic Survey Priorities: Allocates $27 million, a $2 million increase from last year, for hydrographic surveys of the nation’s coastline.
  • National Weather Service (NWS): Funds the NWS at $991.2 million, an increase of $3 million from last year. 
  • Marine Debris: Murkowski secured report language prioritizing marine debris removal projects in rural and remote communities.

Strengthening Alaska’s Communities

  • Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Grant Programs: The Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) administers multiple grant programs designed to reduce domestic violence and sexual assault by strengthening services to victims and holding offenders accountable. The VAWA grant programs were funded at $481 million, an increase of $1.5 million from last year.
    • STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program –STOP grants are awarded to states in order to enhance the capacity of local communities to develop and strengthen effective law enforcement, prosecution strategies, and victims services in cases involving violent crimes against women. The bill included $215 million in funding for these grants.
    • Services for Rural Victims –This funding will support projects uniquely designed to address and prevent crimes such as domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking in rural areas. The bill included $35 million, an increase of $1 million from last year.
    • Legal Assistance for Victims – Provides $45 million to strengthen civil and criminal legal assistance programs for adult and youth victims.
    • Transitional Housing – Allocates $30 million to assist victims who are in need of transitional housing, short-term housing assistance, and related supportive services.
    • Tribes – Provides $4 million, an increase of $1.5 million from last year, to enhance the ability of tribes to respond to violent crimes against women, enhance victim safety, and develop education and prevention strategies.
  • Crime Victims Fund: This program was funded at $2.9 billion. Murkowski co-sponsored an amendment which directs 5 percent of the fund to Indian Tribal governments.
  • Victims of Child Abuse Act: $21 million has been allocated to support victims of child abuse and help them cope psychologically. This is an increase of $1 million from last year.
  • Drug Courts and Veterans Treatment Courts: Drug courts in Alaska have been instrumental in reducing recidivism and are an effective way to break the cycle of abuse and crime. Drug courts were funded at $43 million, a $1 million increase from last year, while veterans’ treatment was funded at $6 million.
  • Youth Mentoring Programs: $272 million for youth programs in the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, an increase of $1.8 million from last year. $75 million allocated to youth mentoring and $10 million allocated to Tribal youth.

Related Issues: Alaska's Fisheries