Today, the House of Representatives unanimously passed S. 756, the Save Our Seas Act, a bill to assist local communities and states in removing garbage and debris from our oceans and shores. House Oceans Caucus Co-Chairs Congressman Don Young (R-AK) and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) introduced the bill, H.R. 2748, last year.
“In Alaska, we know first-hand the lasting impacts of marine debris,” said Alaska Congressman Don Young. “The Save Our Seas Act is an important piece of legislation that ensures our communities have the tools they need to combat the growing problem of marine debris. The bill authorizes funding for programs run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Coast Guard that are aimed at addressing current marine debris. Additionally, the bill requires NOAA to work with other federal agencies to mitigate sources of marine debris and to promote international efforts to reduce marine debris worldwide. Ensuring that the U.S. and our global partners have access to the necessary resources is crucial to ending the marine debris crisis. I want to thank Congresswoman Bonamici – she and I are Co-Chairs of the House Oceans Caucus and have worked on this issue for quite some time. I’m proud to support this legislation and I appreciate my colleagues in the House and my Senator Dan Sullivan for their hard work on this bill.”
“The health of our oceans reflects the health of our planet, and we must do more to keep garbage out of the ocean and off of our shores,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “Marine debris is entirely preventable, but more than eight million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans each year, harming our coastal economies, endangering marine life, destroying important marine habitat, propagating invasive species, and creating hazardous conditions for the maritime industry. I was proud to work with my fellow House Oceans Caucus Co-Chair Don Young on this bill to strengthen federal support for preventing and responding to marine debris events.”
Bonamici and Young spoke on the House floor to encourage their colleagues to support final passage. You can download video footage of Bonamici speaking here, and Young speaking here.
The Save Our Seas Act reauthorizes the NOAA Marine Debris Program through Fiscal Year 2022 and provides resources to help states respond to severe marine debris events. The bill allows the NOAA Administrator, in coordination with relevant Governors, to declare severe marine debris events, authorize funding to assist with cleanup and response, and encourage international engagement to address the growing effects of marine debris.
Healthy beaches and waterways are critical to the marine ecosystems that drive the economy in coastal communities. More than 3 million jobs in the U.S. rely on our oceans, contributing at least $352 billion in economic activity annually.
The House Oceans Caucus is a bipartisan group of House members committed to taking action to protect the health and future of our oceans. In addition to marine debris, the Caucus focuses on efforts to address ocean acidification, illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and weather and natural disaster hazards that threaten coastal communities and wildlife.