The entire ocean conservation community benefits from having ocean champions in Congress. Ocean champions sit on key committees and we saw how this helped to pass important ocean legislation last year. While it is still early in this new Congress to determine which issues will be addressed and passed into laws, we see a few rising to the surface.
In conversations with our champions in Congress and our colleagues in the ocean community, we have been hearing about plastic pollution in the oceans, electronic monitoring for fisheries, IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing), reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which is the primary federal statute governing management of our Nation’s fisheries, and establishing some sort of national endowment for the oceans.
One issue our leadership has already made some headway on is HAB’s 2.0 (Harmful Algal Blooms). Last year, the only stand-alone ocean conservation legislation passed by Congress and signed by President Obama was S1254, legislation on Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxic Zones.
While this legislation made great strides by bringing focus to how $20 million a year for the next five years will be dedicated to monitoring toxic algal blooms and research into their causes, our champions in Congress are interested in doing even more to address this growing problem. Even now, we are actively working with them on the next steps forward.
In the weeks ahead, we will remain attuned to the political climate on the Hill and continue assessing which issues have the best prospects for moving forward.
As the 114th Congress unfolds, we will continue working with our Congressional champions to get positive results for the oceans.
We look forward to keeping you up to date on these issues and more!
For the oceans,