Senate Declares National Estuaries Week
Washington, DC – The Senate has unanimously approved a resolution designating the week of September 15 through September 22, 2018 as National Estuaries Week. Sponsored by U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and 26 others, the bipartisan legislation recognizes the importance of coastal and estuarine regions to our national economy, and reaffirms the Senate’s continued support for protecting and restoring these vital resources.
“Estuaries are a big part of life in Rhode Island. They sustain our economy, from fishing to tourism to hospitality. They protect us from storms, and serve as nurseries for all manner of marine and other wildlife. And they are the backdrop to so many happy memories with our families and friends,” said Whitehouse, who serves as co-chair of the Senate Oceans Caucus. Whitehouse also sponsored legislation to reauthorize the National Estuaries Program, which was signed into law in 2016. “I’m happy to recognize the importance of our estuaries.”
Estuarine regions of the United States contribute a great deal to the economy nationwide. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, estuary regions cover only 13 percent of the land area of the continental United States, but make up nearly half of the country’s economic output.
Estuaries currently face considerable threats. It is estimated that the United States lost more than half of the wetlands that existed in the 13 Colonies by the 1980s. In addition, many bays that once constituted important fisheries are now considered “dead zones” filled with nutrient pollution, chemical wastes, harmful algae, and marine debris.
Rhode Island has a long history of working to support healthy estuaries. In 1987, Rhode Island Senator John Chafee established the National Estuaries Program to protect and restore estuarine habitats threatened by pollution, overdevelopment, and other harms. Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay was one of the original six estuaries in the program, which has brought millions of dollars in federal funding to the state over the years.
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