House Oceans Caucus Moves to Address Marine Debris

House Oceans Caucus co-chairs Don Young, R-Alaska, and Suzanne Bonamici, D-Oregon, have introduced legislation to address the global marine debris crisis affecting oceans and coastal communities.

H.R. 2748, the Save Our Seas Act of 2017, would reauthorize the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program through fiscal year 2022. Reauthorization would allow NOAA, in coordination with state governors, to declare severe marine debris events and to approve funds to assist with cleanup and response, and encourage international engagement to address the growing adverse impact of marine waste. Companion legislation has been filed in the Senate.

Marine debris is considered to be a growing global crisis requiring collaborative work with partners across the world. H.R. 2748 would assist local communities, states and the federal government in responding to influxes of debris in the ocean and along the nation’s coastlines.

The Japanese tsunami in March 2011 brought a huge amount of debris to the Pacific Coast. Young noted that it is estimated that up to 12.7 million metric tons of waste entered the ocean in 2012 and that number is expected to increase 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 the problem, Young said.