Congress created the North Pacific Research Board in 1997 to recommend marine research initiatives to the US Secretary of Commerce, who makes final funding decisions.
The Board’s research funds are based on the interest earned by the Environmental Improvement and Restoration Fund (EIRF), created by Congress and derived from the Dinkum Sands case.
Each year, 20 percent of the interest is made available to the Secretary without further appropriation to carry out marine research
activities. The enabling legislation calls for EIRF funds to be used to:
“...conduct research activities on or relating to the fisheries or marine ecosystems in the north Pacific Ocean, Bering Sea, and Arctic Ocean (including any lesser related bodies of water).... [with]...priority on cooperative research efforts designed to address pressing fishery management or marine ecosystem information needs.”
NPRB funding has been used by investigators in 22 states, as well as in Russia and Canada. See map
The Board annually establishes written criteria for the submission of grant requests through a competitive process and for deciding upon the award of grants. The Board receives advice from various panels and committees, and recommends grants based on the merits of the request and the extent to which the proposed research meets the priorities established by the Board.
The Secretary, through his designee, the Alaska Regional Administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service, reviews all grants recommended by the Board. If the Secretary decides not to approve a project recommended by the Board, then the Secretary must explain his reasons in writing. The amount recommended to be used for such grants will be available only for other grants recommended by the Board.