Tagged: Ocean Governance

July was a busy month for ocean-related legislation.

July’s Congressional Wrap Up

Nothing in COL’s legislative tracker was signed into law this month, but several items did pass out of committee, the House, or the Senate. Notably, the Save Our Seas Act of 2017 (S.756) passed the Senate with unanimous consent last week. The legislation (and its counterpart in the House (H.R. 2748)) reauthorizes and amends the Marine Debris Act (P.L. 109-332) “to promote international action to reduce marine debris.”

The Magnuson-Stevens Act has helped restore U.S. fish populations, and now 90 percent of fisheries fall below their annual catch limits. (Credit: Bruno de Giusti, Wiki Commons)

House Fishes For Improvements To Magnuson-Stevens Act

Only 31 years ago, fleets from foreign countries could fish as close as 12 nautical miles to the United States shoreline. Fish populations were severely depleted, impacting livelihoods for fishers and threatening biodiversity. As a result, Congress passed the bipartisan Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). This law extends U.S. jurisdiction to 200 nautical miles, uses science-based management to rebuild stocks and prevent overfishing, and ensures an economically sustainable yield via quotas and annual catch limits. The 1976 law created eight regional fishery management councils and has been updated twice, once in 1996 and again in 2007. Thanks to these efforts, U.S. fish populations are rebuilding, and now, 90 percent of fisheries fall below their annual catch limits. Last week, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans held a hearing to discuss areas for improvement to consider upon reauthorization. Both sides of the aisle praised the successes of the law and conceded need for change but had different ideas for what those alterations might be.

House Appropriators Advance Interior and Energy-Water Appropriations Bills – With National Ocean Policy Riders

President Obama’s 2010 Executive Order 13547, Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the Great Lakes, commonly referred to as the National Ocean Policy (NOP), is designed to protect, maintain, and restore the health of ecosystems and resources of the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes; to enhance the sustainability of ocean and coastal economies; to preserve maritime heritage; to support sustainable uses and access; and to coordinate with our national security and foreign policy interests. Since its inception, it has been a controversial topic, with Democrats lauding its science-based decision making, benefits to stakeholders, economic growth, and sustainable development and Republicans considering it as executive overreach and a vehicle for new regulations.

Despite the U.S. withdrawing from the Paris agreement, other countries will continue to wards their five-year commitments. (Credit: The Guardian)

Climate Change: “Not A Belief System”

Hardly anyone would play Russian roulette with a one-in-six chance of fatality. Representative Don Beyer (VA-8) drew this analogy at a roundtable discussion on Tuesday, wondering why the United States would take a gamble on climate action when 97 percent of climate scientists agree the climate is changing. At the roundtable hosted by Ranking Member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), scientists and climate policy experts discussed the scientific basis for climate action and the international ramifications of climate policies.

DOI Secretary Zinke may explore offshore drilling in the Arctic. (Credit: BBC)

Does “Balanced” Proposed Interior Budget Tip Scale Towards Oil And Gas?

Ocean territories surrounding the United States cover 3.4 million square nautical miles – more than the entire land area of all 50 states. The Department of the Interior (DOI) has the literally enormous responsibility of “support[ing] stewardship and collaborative conservation and management” of these ocean, Great Lakes, and coastal resources. DOI Secretary Ryan Zinke defended the president’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 at a series of hearings this week before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, and the House Natural Resources Committee.

A number of new bills introduced in this Congress were of relevance to the ocean science community. One relates to ocean acification research.(Credit: NOAA)

New Congress Means New Legislation

In a scene more appropriate for a college laboratory than the Capitol building (lab safety protocols aside), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) measured pH on the Senate floor during an ocean acidification demonstration. The act...

Stakeholders from the transportation sector advise the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Securityon future transportation plans. (Credit: Alfvan Beem/Wikimedia commons)

Fair Share Wanted For Transportation Spending

Like a hungry group eyeing a delicious pie, stakeholders in the transportation sector are anticipating big moves from Congress and the administration, and they all want their fair share. To this end, the 115th Congress has had a busy start with several hearings focused on modernizing our country’s infrastructure.

House Committee on Natural Resources Republicans thwart rule change requests by Democrats.(Credit: P.D.Tillman/U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)

Flat Out Rejection

Though Valentine’s Day might be right around the corner, love was not in the air between members of the House Committee on Natural Resources during their first organizational meeting, where the committee evaluated and adopted governing rules for the current Congress. With little debate, the majority unanimously rejected all nine proposed Democratic amendments before accepting the new Authorization and Oversight Plan and committee rules.