The United States Capitol Building

Washington, DC – Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) cheered the signing by the president today of their bipartisan Save Our Seas (SOS) Act, to address the marine debris epidemic affecting America’s oceans, shorelines, and inland waterways, as well as other coasts across the globe.  The Senators, all members of the Senate Oceans Caucus, introduced the legislation in March 2017 to boost the federal government’s domestic and international response to the millions of tons of plastic waste and other garbage that litter our shores and pollute our oceans, endanger wildlife, and disrupt commerce.  The bill, signed during a ceremony at the White House today, will also foster cooperation between the United States and other nations to confront the crisis worldwide.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

“Everyone from scientists, to journalists, to fishermen, to coastal industries and international corporations are sounding the alarm about plastic trash and other marine debris polluting our oceans.  It’s time to protect our precious marine ecosystems and coastal economies from this threat,” said Senator Whitehouse, co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Oceans Caucus in a press release making the announcement today.  “This bipartisan bill represents an important step forward in addressing the marine debris crisis.  Senators Sullivan, Booker, Inhofe and I were proud to pass it in the Senate, and I’m thrilled to see it signed at the White House today.”

“This bipartisan legislation is important for the country, for the world, and certainly for Alaska, which has more coastline than the rest of the Lower 48 combined,” said Senator Sullivan in the release. “The prevalence of marine debris on our shores is a chronic issue.  This bill will serve to strengthen the federal response capabilities to marine debris disasters, combat land based marine debris resources, and encourage interagency coordination in stemming the tide of ocean trash and importantly encourage the Trump administration to pursue international agreements with regard to this challenge.”

“Dangerously high levels of marine debris pollution in our oceans and waterways is an urgent environmental, economic and public health issue for coastal communities in New Jersey and across the country,” said Senator Booker in the release.“Our bipartisan bill is a good first step toward the clean up of these waterways and shorelines throughout the United States and will boost our ability to coordinate with international partners to respond to this crisis.”

Every year, roughly eight million metric tons of mismanaged plastic waste from land enters the oceans.  It then breaks down into tiny pieces that can enter the marine food web and harm fish and wildlife, and wash ashore on even the most remote beaches.

The Save our Seas Act will help confront the marine debris crisis by:

  • Allowing the NOAA Administrator to declare severe marine debris events and authorize funds to assist with cleanup and response.  The governor of the affected state may request the NOAA Administrator make this declaration.
  • Reauthorizing NOAA’s Marine Debris Program through FY2022.  Its mission is to support research on the sources of marine debris and take action to prevent and clean up marine debris.
  • Encouraging the executive branch to engage with the leaders of nations responsible for the majority of marine debris, support research into improved waste management infrastructure and new materials that reduce the risks of marine debris, examine the causes of ocean debris, pursue new international agreements to address this issue, harness the United States’ trade authority to urge other countries to improve their waste management systems, and to quantify the economic benefits for nations in addressing the crisis.

Whitehouse, Sullivan, and Booker led 19 other Senate cosponsors of the bipartisan bill.

Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here - https://whatsupnewp.com/2021/09/letter-from-the-publisher-some-personal-news/

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at ryan@whatsupnewp.com and 401-662-1653.