Today, President Trump signed S. 3508, The Save Our Seas Act, into law which will assist local communities and states in removing garbage and debris from our oceans and shores. House Oceans Caucus Co-Chairs Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Congressman Don Young (R-AK) introduced the House companion bill, H.R. 2748, last year.
“Alaskans know, better than most, how marine debris can impact our oceans and coastlines,” said Congressman Don Young. “I was proud to work with my Oceans Caucus colleagues, particularly my co-chair Suzanne Bonamici, to pass this critical legislation out of the House. This bill will allow NOAA and the Coast Guard to address the creation and cleanup of marine debris, and will give the U.S. tools to work with foreign allies to ensure they have the necessary tools to end this crisis. I am very pleased to see this legislation signed into law, and I appreciate my colleagues in the House who passed this bill with unanimous consent.”
“The ocean is resilient and we can help it heal, but we cannot continue to ignore the garbage polluting our oceans and shores,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “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 bipartisan bill to assist local communities and states in preventing and responding to marine debris events. Marine debris is entirely preventable and establishing this law is an important step in protecting the health of our oceans.”
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.
Both Representative 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.
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.