NOAA Sea Grant Guidance Raises Concern

Imagine if your doctor has diagnosed your ailment, but is prohibited from prescribing a cure.

Sound crazy? But according to Greenwire (sub. req.), that’s what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) continues to tell scientists in its Sea Grant research program – they can talk about our problems, but they can’t talk about solutions:

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has announced it will continue to distribute guidance that discourages scientists receiving Sea Grant research grants from speaking out on “issues of public debate,” despite a petition from an advocacy group to reverse the “gag rule.”

NOAA rejected a petition from the advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility that asked the agency to alter their guidance related to the National Sea Grant College Program which funds scientific research. The guidance tells recipients of marine research grants to avoid advocacy “at all costs” — a policy that forces academics to keep quiet or risk losing their funding, according to PEER.

Gagging scientists is bad enough, but the policy’s vagueness makes it even worse,” said Dr. Doug Inkley, the National Wildlife Federation’s senior scientist. “At a time when scientists are increasingly coming under political attack, it opens a gaping hole for a witch hunt about where scientists cross the line into ‘advocacy’. It doesn’t serve society well that the scientific experts on an issue are excluded from making management/policy recommendations in their area of expertise.”