By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,176)
US Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D) announced today that two Maine organizations working to rescue stranded seals and whales would receive federal Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grants through the National Oceanic and Administration (NOAA). Though funding for the program has faced possible elimination in the President’s proposed budget in recent years, Pingree has worked with other lawmakers to make these grants possible through the Congressional appropriations process.
“It’s important to protect the health of our marine mammal populations because they’re iconic species for our state and a critical part of the ecosystem. When whales and seals end up stranded on beaches or trapped in shallow water, we depend on having well-trained people who can respond quickly and appropriately,” said Pingree. “Two Maine organizations re dong fantastic work in coordinating responses for hundreds of animals a year. They’ve done a great job recruiting volunteers and raising private funds, but the federal government has an obligation to provide support. I’m so glad the organizations will receive these grants to help continue their very important work.”
Marine Mammal Rescue of Maine will receive a grant for $83,878 to support its work responding to marine mammal strandings from Kittery to Rockland. The organization has een under increased pressure since the closing of a marine mammal rehabilitation center at UNE last spring.
The College of the Atlantic’s Allied Whale program will receive $99,934 to support its response in Downeast and Midcoast Maine.
The John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program is the sole source of federal funding for stranding response. Since the program was created in 2000, it has supported a national network of organizations that have helped NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service meets its legal mandate to respond to marine mammal st randings.
Funding for the program was not included in the President’s budget for 2013 or 2014. With other lawmakers, Pingree has worked to restore funding thought the Congressional appropriations process, making grant awards possible. She is a member of the House appropriations Committee.