House Resolution Calls for Ocean Conservation and Resource Rebuilding

Collapse of Atlantic cod stocks off the East Coast of Newfoundland in 1992. From the late 1950s, offshore bottom trawlers began exploiting the deeper part of the stock, leading to a large catch increase and a strong decline in the underlying biomass. Internationally agreed quotas in the early 1970s and national quota systems following the declaration by Canada of an Exclusive Fishing Zone in 1977 both ultimately failed to reverse the decline. (Image credit: Lamiot, GNU Free Documentation License.)

House Oceans Caucus co-chairs, Alaska Congressman Don Young and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, introduced a bipartisan resolution recognizing World Oceans Day on June 8 with a call for action to protect, conserve, maintain and rebuild the world’s oceans and ocean resources. Additionally the cochairs wrote an op-ed about the topic, published in The Hill.

The House Oceans Caucus is a bipartisan group of House members committed to taking action to protect the health and future of the oceans. The caucus led the introduction of the Save Our Seas Act to assist local communities and states in removing garbage and debris from oceans and shores. In addition to marine debris, the caucus focuses on: efforts to address illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; ocean acidification; and weather and natural disaster hazards that threaten coastal communities and wildlife.

According to the caucus, the blue economy supports more than three million jobs in the U.S. and contributes at least $352 billion in economic activity annually. Changes in ocean chemistry pose a threat to marine resources, industries, and jobs. These changes affect the people who work on the ocean or in coastal communities as well as consumers, grocery stores and restaurants that need stable supplies of seafood and shellfish.

“Every minute… the equivalent of a garbage truck full of plastic will be dumped into the oceans. That’s about eight million metric tons a year, endangering marine life,” Bonamici said in a speech on the House floor.

“The health of our oceans reflects the health of our planet. We have work to do. Oceans absorb CO2 produced by human activity, and increasing carbon emissions are stressing the oceans and threatening the livelihood of coastal communities… We must invest in research to better understand the challenges to ocean health, like ocean acidification, harmful algal blooms, marine debris and overfishing. The ocean is resilient, but we cannot afford to wait… The time to take action is now.”

You can read a copy of the resolution here.

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