Stop Using Oceans as Landfills: Reduce Marine Debris Now

Target: California State Senator Dianne Feinstein

Goal: Continue to reduce the amount of debris and pollution dumped into oceans around the world

Passed by President George W. Bush in 2006, the Marine Debris Research, Prevention, and Reduction Act was an important stride in working to resolve oceanic pollution. The act served to establish the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program, as well as allocate $10 million to NOAA for the implementation of this program. These funds would be put towards debris mapping, identification, impact assessments, and more importantly removal and prevention activities.

Now, following house approval, the senate is being presented with two very important amendments to this act, H.R. 1171 and S. 1119. These would serve to reauthorize and amend the original act, as well as appropriate $4.9 million annually through 2015 for NOAA to continue to carry out activities to reduce the amount of marine debris (such as plastic bags, fishing tackle, and food wrappers) in oceans and coastal areas.

It is critical that these amendments are approved to continue working to limit the devastating pollution wracking oceans around the world. This would serve to help reduce the enormous trash islands formed by oceanic currents. There are five known gyres in the world’s oceans that collect this trash and marine debris, with the largest being the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This mass of refuse is estimated to be roughly twice the size of Texas and contain over 100 million tons of trash. The vast majority of these floating masses are comprised of man-made refuse which is not biodegradable.

The world’s oceans are not a convenient repository to simply dump trash and forget about it. The effects of this accumulation are long lasting and will eventually devastate marine ecosystems around the world. For the future of all the world’s oceans, these two amendments must be approved.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Senator Feinstein,

The Marine Debris Research, Prevention, and Reduction Act was an important step in working to both recognize and treat the mounting problem of accumulating refuse within our world’s oceans. Originally passed by President George W. Bush in 2006, the bill served to establish the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) Marine Debris Program, as well as allocate $10 million to NOAA for the implementation of this program. This funding was put towards debris mapping, identification, and impact assessments, as well as (most critically) removal and prevention activities.

Now a pair of amendments to this bill, H.R. 1171 and S. 1119, await senate approval following their passage within the house. Upon ratification H.R. 1171 and S. 1119 would serve to reauthorize and amend the original act, as well as appropriate $4.9 million annually through 2015 for NOAA to continue to carry out activities to reduce the amount of marine debris (such as plastic bags, fishing tackle, and food wrappers) in oceans and coastal areas.

It is critical that these two amendments are passed so as to allow NOAA to continue working to reduce and prevent the devastating volume of garbage collecting in oceans around the world. Eventually this could help reduce or even eliminate the massive trash islands formed by oceanic currents. The largest of these, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, has grown to roughly double the size of Texas. Contained within this massive debris field is an estimated 100 million tons of trash. If any region on American soil had but a fraction of this amount there would be no hesitation to act quickly to resolve the issue. The fact that it exists within the ocean should not change this.

The world’s oceans are not a convenient repository to dump trash and then ignore it. The effects of this accumulation will eventually devastate marine ecosystems around the world. For the future of the world’s oceans, H.R. 1171 and S. 1119 must be approved.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

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