WASHINGTON -- February 11 -- The Ocean Conservancy thanks Senator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and co-sponsor Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) for introducing The Marine Debris Research and Reduction Act (S.362), an important and timely piece of legislation to help stem the tide of marine debris. Every year thousands of marine animals including seals, dolphins, and sea birds die needlessly because of entanglement in, or ingestion of, debris and trash that finds its way to the oceans.
"Marine debris such as discarded fishing line and nets are responsible for killing or injuring thousands of marine mammals, fish and birds every year," said Seba Sheavly, Director of The Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup. "This bill is a great step forward in addressing some of these major sources of dangerous marine debris. It will expand the existing body of science, contribute to our understanding of its sources, and lead to more effective prevention."
Marine debris includes derelict fishing gear and nets from commercial fishing, as well as debris from land-based activities. The recently released U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy report points out that drifting gear can damage fragile coral reefs, seagrass beds, and other critical habitat, and entangle marine wildlife. This adds greater stress to already-imperiled marine ecosystems, particularly in large coastal states like Florida, California, Alaska and Hawaii.
Now in its 20th year, the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) is the world's largest single-day volunteer effort to clean up the marine environment. When The Ocean Conservancy began the ICC in 1985, it consisted of a group of dedicated volunteers cleaning a strip of Texas shoreline. Now, The Ocean Conservancy's volunteers cover thousands of miles each year, in every state and nearly 100 nations.
In 2003, over 160,000 Americans and nearly 500,000 volunteers around the world removed almost 4 million pounds of debris from U.S. beaches alone. Thanks to Senator Inouye and the bill's co- sponsors--Stevens, (R-Alaska), Cantwell (D-Wash.), Snowe (R- Maine), Kerry (D-MA), Lautenberg (D-N.J.)--the Marine Debris Research and Reduction Act represents a huge step forward in the effort to protect and restore our ocean environment.
Additional information about the Bill please contact: Andy Davis of the U.S. Commerce Department: 202.224.4546.
The Ocean Conservancy strives to be the world's foremost advocate for the oceans. Through science-based advocacy, research, and public education, we inform, inspire and empower people to speak and act for the oceans. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with more than half a million members and volunteers The Ocean Conservancy has regional offices in Alaska, California, Florida, and New England and field offices in Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz, CA, Florida Keys, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the office of Pollution Prevention and Monitoring in Virginia Beach, VA.