Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 12-2015


Former Congressman Sam Farr has long been an advocate of the oceans and coasts of California. In fact, the inspiration for the Center for the Blue Economy’s National Ocean Economics Program, which tracks ocean and coastal economic activity for the U.S., came from an economic study done for the California coast in 1997 at the suggestion of Congressman Farr. He has long been a friend of the National Ocean Economics Program and its founding Director, Dr. Judith Kildow.

In a meeting with Dr. Kildow in the summer of 2015, he asked her to create a report that takes the 15 year data set that the National Ocean Economics Program has developed related to the ocean economy and separate it into congressional district reports for each of the members of the U.S. Space, Science and Technology Committee. This committee has jurisdiction on all matters relating to environmental and marine research and development, environmental standards, climate change research, and many, many other important areas. The committee has sway over how the federal government spends money on each of these issues, but in fact the ocean and coasts must compete for funding with space exploration, energy research, and the myriad of projects this committee oversees. The language of economics and jobs holds persuasive power in Washington. Congressman Farr wanted each committee member to see how much the oceans and coasts contribute to their districts economically in hopes that they will better understand the importance of funding for ocean research.

To get a sense of the importance of the US ocean and coastal economy to our national economy:

*In 2014, coastal states contributed more than $13 trillion dollars, or 83.7% of the total U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), as published in the National Ocean Economics Program’s most recent “State of the U.S. Ocean and Coastal Economies.”

*The Ocean Economy of the US contributed more than 2% of the US GDP, more than agriculture.

*Employment was at 107.3 million or 81.5% of total U.S. employment. 82% of the U.S. population lives in the coastal states.

Given those numbers, and the fact that Congressman Farr along with Don Young (R-AK) and Lois Capps (D-CA) introduced H.R. 2717, the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring (FOARAM) Act to expand NOAA’s efforts, it was vital and timely that each member of the U.S. Space, Science, and Technology Committee see the importance of the ocean economy for their districts. Even those in the heartland have skin in the game. “The strength of our economy is directly tied to the health of our oceans,” said Rep. Farr in an article on his website. “Ocean acidification is not just a coastal problem; it threatens our entire national economy. We need to develop solutions to the problem of ocean acidification right now to protect our greatest natural resource and the industries it supports.”

In summer and fall of 2015, the Center for the Blue Economy stepped up to the task. Dr. Yunguang “YG” Chen, Research and Data Analyst, working under the supervision of Dr. Judith Kildow, Pat Johnston (Data Manager for the National Ocean Economics Program), and Dr. Charles Colgan (Director of Research) completed the congressional district reports. In a letter dated October 20th, 2015, Congressman Farr congratulated the Center for the Blue Economy for providing valuable data that will advance sound economic and environmental policies for each district and the nation.

Thank you Congressman Farr for your leadership and for relying on the Center for the Blue Economy and the National Ocean Economics Program to help educate our legislators. You are truly an Ocean Champion.

Update: As of June, 2016 the U.S. Space, Science and Technology Committee voted to allocate 10.5 million towards NOAAs research and planning regarding Ocean Acidification (flat funding from the prior year). For the first time ever, official language added to report that NOAA is encouraged to continue projects on the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring (FOARAM). Thank you for your collective efforts Congressman Farr, Dr. Kildow, and Center for the Blue Economy team!