WASHINGTON – Congressman Vern Buchanan announced today he has co-sponsored the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act, legislation to address the growing problem of marine debris polluting our oceans.
“Our oceans cannot be turned into a global landfill,” Buchanan said. “Protecting the environment and marine life is especially important here in Florida, which has the longest coastlines in the continental United States and is home to some of our country’s greatest treasures and natural resources.”
Plastic debris causes the deaths of more than a million seabirds every year, as well as more than 100,000 marine mammals. Sea turtles are especially at risk, including the endangered Loggerhead and Green Sea turtles, both of which are native to Southwest Florida.
Buchanan stressed the importance of water quality after just last week researchers found a dead whale in Scotland with a 220-pound ball of trash found inside its stomach.
The Save Our Seas 2.0 Act would enhance the country’s global engagement addressing marine debris and prevent the creation of new marine debris.
Specifically, this bipartisan legislation would create a Marine Debris Response Trust Fund for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to respond to natural disasters that cause marine debris and instructs the Secretary of State to submit a report to Congress on the potential for international agreements to reduce marine debris. The bill also authorizes a prize competition encouraging innovation in the removal and prevention of plastic waste.
According to the United Nations, 13 million metric tons of plastic bottles, straws, bags, fishing gear and abandoned vessels are dumped into the ocean every year. The oceans could contain more plastic than fish by 2050, according to an estimate by the United Nation’s Ocean Conference.
The Save Our Seas 2.0 Act builds upon the Save Our Seas Act, which was supported by Buchanan and signed into law by President Trump in 2018.
Buchanan has a long history fighting to protect water quality in Florida and elsewhere, leading the effort in Congress to increase federal funding into red tide. He also has co-sponsored the Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act, to combat ocean acidification, the Marine Oil Spill Prevention Act, to protect Florida’s shores from ocean drilling and the Protect and Restore America’s Estuaries Act, to increase funding for our nation’s estuaries, including Sarasota Bay and Tampa Bay.