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Remarks by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves at the NOAA Ketchikan Port Facility Groundbreaking Ceremony in Ketchikan, Alaska


Good morning, everyone! Thank you, Admiral Hann, for the kind introduction. Before we start, I would like to use the opportunity to thank NOAA and the Coast Guard for all you do year-round, and especially now to protect our communities from the impact of extreme weather events.

Our thoughts now are with everyone in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi, who are in Hurricane Ida’s path.

I would also like to thank Governor Dunleavy, Senator Sullivan, Mayors Siversten and Dial and the Alaska delegation and community for supporting and advocating for the construction of NOAA’s Ketchikan Port Facility. These improvements will not only create a dedicated homeport for NOAA’s ship, Fairweather, but will also enable us to support safe navigation and commerce in Alaska and the region more effectively.

This project will also help us monitor and survey America’s Arctic, which is critically important to protecting our economic and national security interests.

As Deputy Secretary of Commerce, I know full well that our nation’s economic success depends on the health and vitality of our businesses, particularly our small businesses, and their ability to create family sustaining jobs in our communities.  That is why we are committed to economic development in this region and across the U.S.

In the last eighteen months, COVID-19 has impacted every community in America. We have seen firsthand how our families, our businesses, and our communities have been devastated by this unprecedented pandemic.

And we all agree we can’t just go back to the way things were before the pandemic. This is the moment to reimagine and build a new American economy. One that creates millions of good-paying jobs and is more just and sustainable.

This project is a great example of the kind of infrastructure investments that are key to ensuring the United States remains competitive and that we get Americans back to work. 

At the Department of Commerce, we recognize that Alaska plays a crucial role in strengthening our nation’s economic security and competing with the rest of the world.

In fact, Alaska produces more than half the fish caught in waters off the coast of the United States, with an average wholesale value of nearly $4.5 billion per year.  

Alaska's fisheries are among the best-managed, most sustainable in the world, and they provide jobs and a stable food supply for our country, while supporting a traditional way of life for Alaska Native and local fishing communities. And we will use all our tools to make sure that the rest of the world plays by the same rules as our fishermen

Commerce has deep connections to this region, and this is particularly true for our bureau, and our host today, NOAA. Each day, nearly every American relies on the data, products, and services NOAA provides.

These include everything from daily weather forecasts and navigational tools to support the country’s nearly $4.6 trillion in economic activity generated by U.S. seaports, to assessments on the health of the nation’s $200 billion fisheries and disaster response.

NOAA tools are essential to enabling safe navigation, ensuring America's economic competitiveness, and protecting the environment. Protecting the health of ecosystems for this generation, and future generations, is a priority for NOAA, the Department of Commerce, and the Biden Administration. It is vital to the economic well-being of fisheries, tourism, and other critical sectors.

We are excited to work with you in creating a future that invests in our communities and look forward to coming back to Ketchikan when the port facility is completed.

And with that, I’ll turn it over to Greg. Thank you!