WASHINGTON For more than a century, federal scientists have worked on Pivers Island near the historic town of Beaufort, N.C., and the beaches of Emerald Isle studying the ocean, and the fish, turtles and dolphins of its sea grass estuaries and rocky reefs.
Surrounded by three university labs, it’s one of a handful of oceanography hubs in the nation and the only government research center between New Jersey and Miami studying Atlantic fish populations.
So it came as a surprise recently that the federal government has proposed doing away with the ocean science laboratory, which opened in 1899.
Tucked in President Barack Obama’s 218-page proposed budget for 2015 was a one-sentence mention of a plan to close one lab to save money. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration subsequently identified it as North Carolina’s historic research station.
“NOAA’s Beaufort lab has conducted valuable fisheries and coastal science for more than 100 years,” said NOAA spokeswoman Ciaran Clayton. “However, this aging facility requires infrastructure repairs and improvements exceeding agency budget resources now and for the foreseeable future.”