oceans

Lawmakers reauthorize NOAA Marine Debris Program

Atlantic waves

President Trump signed the Save Our Seas Act of 2018 (S. 3508) into law on October 11. The Act reauthorizes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Marine Debris Program through fiscal year 2022. It also strengthens certain Coast Guard requirements to promote safety in the maritime industry and promotes awareness and implementation of marine technology within the Coast Guard.

President Trump signs executive order implementing a new national ocean policy

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On June 19, President Donald Trump signed Executive Order (E.O.) 13840, “Ocean Policy to Advance Economic, Security, and Environmental Interests of the United States,” revoking and replacing much of the previous administration’s ocean policy. E.O. 13840 seeks to improve interagency coordination on ocean-related matters, public access to data, and engagement with marine industries, the science and technology community, and other stakeholders.

Senate passes bipartisan ocean monitoring and research act

Ocean Core Sampling

On January 8, the Senate unanimously passed Senator Roger Wicker’s (R-MS) Coordinated Ocean Monitoring and Research Act (S.1425). The bipartisan bill revises and reauthorizes the Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System (ICOOS) Act of 2009, which established the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) to consolidate and coordinate the efforts of hundreds of federal, state, and local observing programs through fiscal year (FY) 2021. In addition to reauthorizing the ICOOS Act, S.1425 promotes best practices regarding data sharing for public use, investment in autonomous unmanned underwater and surface ocean research vehicles, closing gaps in high frequency radar, and assisting Coast Guard search and rescue operations.

House energy subcommittee holds oversight hearing to discuss permitting for offshore seismic surveys

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On January 19, the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held an oversight hearing to identify and examine regulatory obstacles to offshore geological and geophysical resource surveying on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The hearing was held in response to a December 2017 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report detailing the permitting process for seismic research and identifies instances of inefficiency and inconsistency in meeting federal internal control standards. Congress is seeking compromises within the regulatory framework that would allow the U.S. to understand our offshore resource potential and ensure national energy security, while also minimizing the negative effects of anthropogenic noise in the marine environment.

Planning for Coastal Storm and Erosion Hazards

Coastal hazards are a widespread challenge that cost millions (and sometimes billions) of dollars in the U.S. every year due to property loss and spending on mitigation measures. Based on the most recent U.S. Census, over 39% of the U.S. population lives in areas that may undergo significant coastal flooding during a 100-year flood event. Additionally, six of the ten most expensive weather-related disasters in U.S. history have been caused by coastal storms.

Ocean Acidification Impacts on Fisheries

As the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased over recent history, so has the acidity of oceans worldwide. The changing acidity of the ocean has many ecological and economic impacts, one of the most serious being its effects on marine life and fisheries. The impact of ocean acidification is intensified in colder bodies of water such as those off the coast of New England, a region with a large fisheries sector.

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