By The Star Staff
U.S. House Ocean Caucus Co-Chairs Jenniffer González Colón (R-Puerto Rico) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-Oreg.) have introduced bipartisan legislation to help clean up marine debris in oceans and waterways, according to a statement issued Tuesday.
House Resolution (HR) 6781 would reauthorize the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Marine Debris Program through 2028.
The congresswomen introduced the measure before the third anniversary of the bipartisan Save Our Seas Act 2.0, comprehensive legislation passed by Congress to strengthen NOAA’s Marine Debris Program and improve the nation’s infrastructure to prevent marine debris.
“NOAA’s Marine Debris Program provides critical resources to mitigate the impact of marine debris on our ocean and coastal environments,” González Colón said.
“In Puerto Rico, for example, I have supported initiatives to investigate and monitor sources of marine debris within our watersheds, as well as multiple projects to help remove abandoned vessels, abandoned fishing equipment, and debris generated by hurricanes on our coasts and waters,” the resident commissioner added. “The approval of our measure is crucial so that state, territorial, and local efforts can continue to be supported to work on this problem comprehensively.”
Bonamici pointed out that “[m]arine debris threatens coastal communities, ecosystems and marine life.”
“Congress strengthened NOAA’s Marine Debris Program to better respond to plastics, abandoned vessels and fishing equipment, and other harmful debris littering ocean waters and coasts,” she said. “This legislation will build on that success to continue protecting the ocean and communities in the future.”
Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Ark.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) introduced the Senate version.
The caucus co-chaired by Bonamici and González Colón is a bipartisan group of members of the House of Representatives committed to protecting the health and future of the ocean. In the current Congress, the caucus has focused on environmental stressors (including ocean acidification, harmful algal blooms and hypoxia), marine debris, ocean data and monitoring, coastal resilience, deep sea mining and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.