Washington, D.C. – House Oceans Caucus Co-Chairs, Alaska Congressman Don Young and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), recently introduced bipartisan legislation – H.R. 2748, the Save Our Seas Act of 2017 – to promote efforts address the global marine debris crisis affecting our oceans and coastal communities.
“The issue of marine debris and cleanup is crucially important to Alaska – especially given how closely connected our coastal communities and economies are to our oceans, waterways and ecosystems,” said Congressman Don Young. “I’m proud to continue this fight in Congress – an effort that has seen important progress in recent years – and thank Rep. Bonamici and our cosponsors from across the country for making this a top priority. This legislation is an important step to ensuring our nation has the tools and resources necessary to manage and address marine debris cleanup, response and research in a serious manner.”
“In Oregon, our coast is a tremendous source of pride,” said Congresswoman Bonamici. “Keeping garbage and large pieces of debris out of the ocean and off of our shores protects our health and wellbeing, our vibrant coastal tourism economy, and the many people who make a living in the fishing industries. Right now, too much of the burden of dealing with marine debris falls on under-resourced cities and counties. I’m proud to join my Ocean Caucus Co-Chair Don Young to strengthen federal support for preventing and quickly responding to marine debris events. This legislation will protect our beautiful and important coastlines so we can enjoy them for generations to come.”
Marine debris is considered a growing global crisis that requires collaborative work with partners from across the world. H.R. 2748, the Save Our Seas (SOS) Act, works to assist local communities, states, and the federal government respond to influxes of marine debris in our oceans and along our nation’s coastlines. The legislation would reauthorize the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Marine Debris Program through Fiscal Year 2022, allow the NOAA Administrator – in coordination with State Governors – to declare severe marine debris events and to authorize funding to assist with cleanup and response, and encourage international engagement to address the growing impacts of marine debris.
For a summary of H.R. 2748, click here. Companion legislation has also been filed in the Senate.
The nation’s shores and waterways are littered with debris that threaten critical habitat, pose a danger to wildlife, and mar shorelines for residents and visitors. Plastic shopping bags, rubber tires, cigarette butts, fishing gear, and other trash ends up in oceans from human activity at sea and on land through rivers and drainage systems. Ocean currents can move discarded trash or debris incredible distances, and much of the debris within US waters does not originate from the US. The tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011 brought an onslaught of debris to the Pacific Coast. It has been estimated that up to 12.7 million metric tons of waste entered the ocean in 2012, and that number is expected to increase by an order of magnitude if waste management infrastructure improvements are not implemented by 2025. Current authorizations for marine debris removal programs have expired, and without this legislation, there will continue to be a lack of resources to address this problem.
Senator Sullivan and Senator Murkowski are both the sponsors of Senate companion legislation to H.R. 2748.