Trio Of Ocean And Great Lakes Bills Passes Senate Committee

2017-08-07T16:30:26+00:00 August 7, 2017|
Making science-based decisions requires data and information.

(Click to enlarge) Making science-based decisions requires data and information.

What It Was

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a markup on Wednesday to consider bills and nominations, including three related to ocean research: the Coordinated Ocean Monitoring and Research Act (S. 1425), the American Fisheries Advisory Committee Act (S. 1322), and the Great Lakes Environmental Sensitivity Index Act (S. 1586).

Why It Matters

Making science-based decisions requires data and information. Ocean and coastal policies and management decisions also require current and robust observations and monitoring. All three bipartisan bills will advance monitoring and research of the ocean, Great Lakes, and fisheries through grants, linking programs (ICOOS and FOARAM) and topics (ocean observations with sound and with economy), and by updating important indices.

Key Points

The Coordinated Ocean Monitoring and Research Act (S. 1425) would reauthorize the Integrated Ocean Observing System Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-11). An approved amendment in the nature of a substitute from Senator Roger Wicker (MS), the bill’s sponsor, made technical updates to the language and authorized appropriations through Fiscal Year 2019. Additionally, it includes an amendment to the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act of 2009 to include an economic vulnerability report. An amendment by Senator Cory Booker (NJ) would require that the report to Congress include a summary of “existing gaps in observation infrastructure and monitoring data collection relating to marine sound monitoring.”

The American Fisheries Advisory Committee Act (S. 1322) establishes an American Fisheries Advisory Committee to assist in awarding grants for fisheries development and research. An approved amendment from Senator Brian Schatz (HI) expands the purposes of those grants to include fisheries science and recreational fishing.

The Great Lakes Environmental Sensitivity Index Act (S. 1586) proposes the Undersecretary for Oceans and Atmosphere to update the environmental sensitivity index products of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for each coastal area of the Great Lakes. The index is a tool that will be used to “identify sensitive shoreline, coastal or offshore, resources prior to an oil spill event in order to set baseline priorities for protection and plan cleanup strategies, typically including information relating to shoreline type, biological resources, and human use resources.”

All three bipartisan bills passed the committee without debate.

Next Steps

Next, the bills will head to the floor to be voted upon by the full Senate after Congress resumes on September 5.

Find Out More

Watch the full markup

Majority statement

Minority statement

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