Washington Sea Grant Biennial Research Grant Competition

Washington Sea Grant

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Grant amount: Up to US $280,000

Next anticipated deadline: Mar 13, 2021 (Pre proposal)

Later anticipated deadlines: Jun 1, 2021 (Full proposal)

Applicant type: Research Scientist Indigenous Group Nonprofit Faculty

Funding uses: Research

Location of project: Washington

Location of residency: Washington

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Washington Sea Grant (WSG) requests proposals for one- to two-year projects from investigators at academic, research and education institutions throughout the state of Washington. Funded projects will contribute to WSG and state priority information needs by advancing knowledge in one of four focus areas: healthy coastal ecosystems, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, resilient communities and economies, and ocean literacy and workforce development. 

About $2 million will be available over a two-year period to support an estimated eight to ten projects. Proposals may request annual budgets up to $140,000 for a total project cap of $280,000; a 50 percent non-federal cost share or match is required. Investigators may apply for a graduate research fellow to participate in their research project.

Program Priorities

WSG serves the Pacific Northwest and the nation by funding marine research and education and by working with communities, managers, businesses and the general public to strengthen understanding and sustainable use of ocean and coastal resources. Based at the University of Washington (UW) College of the Environment, WSG is part of a national network of 33 Sea Grant programs administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and funded through federal-university partnerships. 

This year, WSG is requesting proposals to implement its 2018–2022 Strategic Plan. Applicants may propose to conduct projects that align with any of four critical program areas laid out in the WSG Strategic Plan. However, the proposal must identify the areas addressed and explain how the project contributes to WSG strategic goals. Critical program areas are not mutually exclusive, and successful proposals often fit into more than one. The four areas are explained in greater detail in the strategic plan and summarized below:

Healthy Coastal Ecosystems

Located within one of the world’s most productive marine regions, Washington’s ocean and coastal resources support diverse cultural, economic and ecological services. Today, population growth, regional development and environmental change create stresses on and challenges for those services throughout Puget Sound and the coastal Pacific. Research is needed to improve understanding of ecosystem structure and function, identify and prioritize emerging threats, rebuild depleted marine populations, restore coastal habitats, and address threats like ocean acidification, harmful algal blooms, hypoxia and aquatic invasive species. 

Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture

Washington’s marine resource economy — commercial and recreational fishing, aquaculture and seafood processing — is an $8 billion industry, providing 15,000 jobs with more than $1 billion in annual wages. Marine waters support a vigorous aquaculture industry, producing more farmed clams, oysters and mussels than any other state, and maintain a longstanding tradition of recreational and subsistence harvests. Potential foci include tools and approaches to improve fisheries management, productivity and ecological sustainability, as well as sustainable aquaculture operations and shellfish harvest.

Resilient Communities and Economies

Nearly seven out of ten Washington residents live in the state’s 15 coastal counties, with the vast majority living in large Puget Sound urban centers. In contrast, the Pacific coast is characterized by small natural resource-based communities. Regional population and economic trends often put pressure on traditional maritime sectors, creating user conflicts and degrading environmental quality through practices such as shoreline armoring, water pollution and increased vulnerability to natural hazards. WSG supports natural and social science projects that help local communities and businesses, improve coastal management, encourage sustainable development and build resilience to hazards and climate change.

Ocean Literacy and Workforce Development

Despite the geographic proximity of many residents to the Washington coast, few are knowledgeable about  aspects of this central environmental feature in their lives, including its resources, industries or declining health. At the same time, state maritime activity continues to grow an average of 6.4 percent a year, and today it provides jobs with substantially better pay than the average for all industries. Maritime industries are facing shortages in well trained workers, which is due to both industry growth and retirement of experienced workers. WSG priorities focus on novel approaches to promote education for learners of all ages and strengthen workforce capacity.

In addition to WSG’s critical program areas, investigators are encouraged to align with priorities identified by state, regional, tribal and national organizations. Examples of documents detailing such priorities include the following:

Read the RFP for full details. 

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Investigator eligibility: 
    • Project principal investigators (PIs) must be affiliated with a university, two- or four-year college, museum, research laboratory or other nonprofit or tribal institution in Washington State.
    • Project co-principal investigators (CoPIs) may be affiliated with the above-listed Washington institutions, institutions outside of Washington, state and federal agencies and for-profit and foreign organizations.
  • Federal law requires that WSG provide a non-federal cost share (match) of 50 percent or one dollar for every two dollars of federal funds awarded.
    • For WSG competitive projects, cost share is the applicant’s responsibility in all but a few exceptional cases. 


  • WSG encourages applications from investigators in the natural, social and education sciences, as well as projects that fill priority knowledge gaps that fall outside typical definitions of “science.”
  • WSG is especially interested in supporting collaborative projects, interdisciplinary partnerships and early career investigators.
  • Partnerships among academic and research institutions, agencies, industry and user-groups are encouraged.
    • For projects that address regional issues, engage investigators outside of Washington and involve other Sea Grant programs, please consult the WSG director to explore joint submittal and funding procedures. 


  • WSG discourages PIs from submitting more than two preliminary proposals.
    • If a PI submits multiple preliminary proposals that are encouraged for development as a full proposal, he or she will be limited to submitting a single project in the full proposal stage.
  • PIs who have received WSG funds previously and have not completed reporting requirements are ineligible for future funding until all delinquent reports have been submitted and approved. 
  • Individuals from state and federal agencies and for-profit and foreign organizations are discouraged or prohibited from requesting direct support, with few exceptions.
    • However, their contributions may be eligible as cost share or leveraged support for the project.