Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Bipartisan Alliance Formed to Address Marine Debris

Bipartisan legislation to help address the marine debris crisis affecting America’s ocean shorelines and inland waterways has been introduced in the US Senate by Senators Cory Booker, D-NJ, Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI and Dan Sullivan, R-AK.

The Save our Seas Act would allow the NOAA administrator to declare severe marine debris events and authorize funds to assist with cleanup and response. The governor of an affected state would also be able to request such a declaration from NOAA. The bill would reauthorize NOAA’s Marine Debris Program through fiscal year 2022, to conduct research on the source of marine debris and take action to prevent and clean up that debris.

It would also encourage the executive branch of government to engage with leaders of nations responsible for the bulk of marine debris, examine the causes of ocean debris, discuss effective prevention and mitigation strategies, and economic benefits for treaty nations in addressing the crisis.

The Save our Seas Act, S. 756, would also address other coasts across the globe.

“Marine debris threatens critical species and habitats, litters our shorelines, and hurts coastal businesses,” Booker said. “Our bipartisan bill authorizes NOAA to continue and expand its work to address this problem, and I look forward to working with Senator Sullivan and our other colleagues to secure additional funding for this program.”

“We have a long way to go, but this legislation is a start toward research, international efforts, and responsible trade policies that together will help us better care for the world’s oceans,” Whitehouse said.

Sullivan meanwhile praised the legislation as a way for the US government to hold accountable countries whom he said are responsible for the majority of debris in oceans. “This bill encourages the Trump administration to forge alliances with these countries and to take a stand against the dangerous levels of debris in our oceans and make sure that they do not reach America’s coastlines,” he said.

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