As reported by Tom Sadler on the HatchMag website, the Save Our Seas Act (SOS) accomplished something rare in today's political climate: It was sponsored by a long list of bi-partisan senators.. and it was passed in August.
The legislation amends the Marine Debris Act and provides $10 million for outreach and education to address both land and sea-based marine debris challenges and $2 million for better law enforcement related to trash dumped from ships and supports Federal funding for research and development of environmentally feasible improvements to materials that reduce municipal solid waste. It also promotes international action to reduce marine debris including ocean biodegradable plastics research, examining the causes of ocean debris, developing effective prevention and mitigation strategies, and measuring the economic benefits from addressing the challenges.
"Over the course of years and decades, marine debris deposited in the ocean half a world away inevitably finds its way to our coastal communities and ecosystems. Alaska feels the brunt of this crisis with its extensive coastline," said Senator Sullivan. "I'm heartened that Senators from coastal and landlocked states alike - from both parties - have come together to support the Save Our Seas Act, which is now one step closer to becoming law. I encourage my colleagues in the House to move swiftly, so that we can reauthorize NOAA's vital Marine Debris Program and enact other measures to clean up Alaska's waters and protect our marine environment."
"Plastic garbage and other junk crowding our oceans and shores is more than an eyesore. It's a threat to vital ocean and coastal ecosystems and our economy," said Senator Whitehouse. "This bill tackles the marine debris crisis along American coasts. It will also push us to work with other countries on limiting the plastics and other harmful materials that find their way to the ocean. That includes working on an international agreement to stop the flow of trash from land into the ocean, and, if trash does get to the ocean, supporting research into new materials that break down in a way that won't wreak havoc in our seas. Thank you to Senators Sullivan, Booker, and all the bipartisan co-sponsors for helping to see this bill through."
How the Academy Can Help, and Answer the SOS
In a partnership and support of Ocean Guardian, the National Maritime Law Enforcement Academy (NMLEA) is working on re-purposing the former USCG Cutter Acushnet to conduct maritime conservation, preservation and protection on the world's oceans. Currently in Anacortes, Washington, the Acushnet is being refurbished and made ready for sea, with the intent of sailing out of dry dock and into the Pacific to support research efforts, fisheries enforcement, and removal of plastic from our seas. With this historic ship that has served the Nation valiantly over the last several decades, this is an opportunity to continue the legacy, to collaborate and answer the "SOS" and the goals of the Act, and to utilize resources from the public, private and non-profit sectors to apply focused funds on efforts that can truly impact the vitality of the Nation's shorelines and the world's oceans.
I recommend that we all reach out to our respective representatives (Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska and cosponsor Senators Whitehouse (RI), Booker (NJ), Coons (DE), Peters (MI), Inhofe (OK), Tillis (NC), and Murkowski (AK) and the 14 other Senators who joined them by the time the bill was passed) and let them know there is a way to answer the "SOS" with resources right here through Ocean Guardian and the NMLEA. We can let our representative know how that money can be applied, and at the very least, contribute to the efforts of the Acushnet to protect our seas. (You can donate to the effort by clicking here.)