Bipartisan Legislation Would Enhance Effectiveness of Marine Debris Program

Image: The office of Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska.

New legislation amending the 2020 Save Our Seas (SOS) 2.0 Act and the 2006 Marine Debris Act would give NOAA greater flexibility to provide federal resources and enter into cooperative agreements to conduct marine debris prevention and clean-up.

The legislation, which passed the Senate by unanimous consent in the previous Congress, also clarifies the function and responsibilities of the congressionally chartered Marine Debris Foundation.

Sponsors include Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore. and Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska.

Bonamici said that marine debris threatens the health of the ocean and that the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act took a big step toward addressing this pollution, but that Congress now has the opportunity to build on that success by making it easier to use resources provided by law.

She also said she’s grateful to continue such work with her colleagues on the House Oceans Caucus and Senate Oceans Caucus and that she’ll also focus on legislation to prevent marine debris by reducing production of plastics and eliminating waste.

Sullivan said that the modifications to SOS 2.0 and the Marine Debris Act would enhance NOAA and the foundation’s ability to deploy federal resources and enter into effective public and private partnerships.

The Save Our Seas 2.0 Act was composed of three major pillars:

  • Strengthening the nation’s domestic marine debris response capability with a Marine Debris Foundation, a genius prize for innovation, and new research to tackle the issue.
  • Enhancing global engagement to combat marine debris, including formalizing U.S. policy on international cooperation, enhancing federal agency outreach to other countries, and exploring the potential for a new international agreement on the challenge.
  • Improving domestic infrastructure to prevent marine debris through new grants for and studies of recycling and waste management and mitigation.

SOS 2.0 builds on the success of the Save Our Seas Act, legislation that was signed into law in October 2018.