Ocean Currents » marine debris reauthorization act http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Fri, 27 Mar 2015 16:32:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Sen. Daniel Inouye: A Hero to the Ocean, a Hero to Our Country http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/12/18/sen-daniel-inouye-a-hero-to-the-ocean-a-hero-to-our-country/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/12/18/sen-daniel-inouye-a-hero-to-the-ocean-a-hero-to-our-country/#comments Tue, 18 Dec 2012 19:02:17 +0000 Janis Searles Jones http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=3908


Senator Daniel Inouye makes remarks at the U.S.-Japan Council Opening Reception on Capitol Hill on October 6th, 2011. Photo: Us Japan Council

Late yesterday evening, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took to the Senate floor to announce the loss of Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, one of the ocean’s true legislative champions. Inouye passed away last night as the second longest serving senator in history – leaving a long legacy of good works for the ocean.

As a senator and former representative from the country’s only island state, Inouye championed the causes of the ocean that surrounded and helped sustain the culture and economy of Hawaii. As one of Capitol Hill’s true bipartisan senators, he wielded his influence to work across the aisle and help pass landmark legislation for ocean health.

Inouye was an early champion in the fight against ocean trash, serving as a lead sponsor to introduce and eventually pass the Marine Debris Act. He also led and co-sponsored the most recent reauthorization of the bill.

As the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, Inouye played a key role in the most recent reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Management Act, which set hard deadlines for ending overfishing. He worked closely and in a bipartisan fashion with former Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, to pass the reauthorization and the bill may not have happened without this tireless work.

As senators from the 49th and 50th states, Inouye and Stevens shared a special bond and often worked closely on a host of ocean issues.

Inouye also sponsored legislation to create and reauthorize the Coral Reef Conservation Act – legislation to protect the beautiful ecosystems so crucial to the Hawaiian way of life.

As chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, he was a champion for ocean funding and was a co-sponsor of the National Endowment for the Oceans.

Throughout his long career in the Senate, Inouye was a servant to his state, country and the ocean.

But he was not only a hero to the ocean; he was also a hero to his country. Inouye served valiantly in World War II and received the nation’s highest military award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his service. He was also the first Japanese American elected to the Senate and a champion of civil rights in Hawaii and across the country.

While Inouye was not always the most high-profile member of the Senate, often shunning the spotlight to work behind closed doors and across the aisle to pass meaningful legislation, those who worked with him will remember him as a passionate and effective leader.

In a time when political gamesmanship too often trumps bipartisan and pragmatic solutions, our country – and our ocean – will miss the quiet leadership of Sen. Daniel Inouye.

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Trash Talk on Capitol Hill http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/12/17/trash-talk-on-capitol-hill/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/12/17/trash-talk-on-capitol-hill/#comments Mon, 17 Dec 2012 14:38:32 +0000 Ellen Bolen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=3893

That’s not an oil slick — it’s debris from last year’s Japanese tsunami that washed into the ocean. Credit: U.S. Pacific Fleet flickr stream

There’s plenty of trash talk on Capitol Hill these days – but probably not the kind you are thinking about. It’s not talk about the fiscal cliff or the elections, it’s all the recent talk on the Hill about ocean trash. Recently we heard that the government of Japan gave the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration $5 million to address the ongoing problem of marine debris that resulted from the 2011 tsunami, the President’s disaster request for Superstorm Sandy included a request for funds to assess marine debris and, perhaps the trashiest conversation of all, the House and Senate passed the Marine Debris Reauthorization Act.

Last Wednesday night, after months of hard work by staff in both chambers – and on both sides of the aisle – the Senate passed the Marine Debris Reauthorization Act as part of the Coast Guard Reauthorization bill.  The House passed the bill last week.  Perhaps you are wondering what reauthorization even means. (I’m not sure schoolhouse Rock covered this portion of lawmaking.)

The reauthorized marine debris act included new language on severe marine debris events like the tsunami and Superstorm Sandy. The law now requires the Administrator of NOAA to develop interagency plans on how to respond to a severe marine debris event.  The plans will cover how to coordinate across agencies, how NOAA will assess and track marine debris from the event and how to estimate potential impacts from marine debris. This ensures NOAA will be even more prepared to deal with the next wave of ocean trash.

It’s important to remember these uncontrollable events – like Hurricane Sandy and the Japan tsunami – add to the larger issue of marine debris.  That’s why it’s important to tackle what’s preventable, because our ocean needs to be healthy and resilient when the unthinkable disasters take place.

The passage of the Marine Debris Reauthorization Act would not have been possible without the leadership and hard work of many members of Congress. Thank you to Sen. Inouye who introduced the bill in the Senate along with a group of 10 bipartisan cosponsors and Reps Don Young and Sam Farr who led the charge in the House with 40 cosponsors! While it seems like an odd thing to say in this town, thank you for talking trash.

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