Senate Passes Resolution Declaring National Estuaries Week
Washington, DC – Today, the Senate unanimously approved a resolution designating the week of September 16 through September 23, 2017 as National Estuaries Week. Sponsored by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and 28 others, the bipartisan legislation recognizes the importance of coastal and estuarine regions to our national economy. It also reaffirms the Senate’s continued support for protecting and restoring these vital resources.
“Estuaries are at the center of our economy and way of life in Rhode Island. They sustain our fishing and tourism industries. They are protection from storms, and nurseries for our plants and wildlife. And they are the backdrop of countless happy memories for Rhode Islanders,” 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 last year. “I’m pleased to recognize what estuaries mean to Rhode Island and communities around the country.”
Estuarine regions of the United States contribute a great deal to the economy nationwide. According to National Ocean Economics Program, as much as 43 percent of United States gross domestic product is generated in shore adjacent counties, and no fewer than 2.1 million American jobs were supported by marine tourism and recreation in 2013.
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 Senator John Chafee established the National Estuaries Program to protect and restore estuarine habitats threatened by pollution, overdevelopment, and other threats. 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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