U.S. Senate Passes Resolution Designating National Estuaries Week
Washington, DC – Today, the Senate unanimously approved a resolution designating the week of September 17 through September 24, 2016 as National Estuaries Week. Sponsored by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and 26 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.
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 coastal shoreline counties, and no fewer than 2.1 million American jobs are supported by marine tourism and recreation.
Estuaries currently face considerable threats. It is estimated that the United States has lost half of its total estuarine acreage since European settlers arrived. 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.
“Our estuaries serve as the lifeblood of our tourism and fishing industries in Rhode Island. They protect our homes and businesses from winds and storm surge. And their beauty makes Rhode Island such a wonderful place to live,” 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 May. “I am pleased to recognize the contributions our estuaries make to our economy and way of life in the Ocean State.”
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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