September 25, 2015

U.S. Senate Passes Resolution Designating National Estuaries Week

Providence, RI – Last night, the Senate unanimously approved a resolution designating the week of September 19 through September 26, 2015 as National Estuaries Week.  The legislation, sponsored by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed, 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 42 percent of United States gross domestic product is generated in coastal shoreline counties, and no fewer than 1.9 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.

“Healthy coastal waters in our estuaries, where our rivers meet the sea, sustain our fishing and tourism industries.  Estuaries buffer our shoreline homes and businesses from winds and storm surges.  And estuaries are a big part of what makes Rhode Island such a beautiful and enjoyable place to live,” said Whitehouse, who serves as co-chair of the Senate Oceans Caucus.  Whitehouse has also sponsored legislation to reauthorize the National Estuaries Program, which passed the Senate this past summer and awaits action in the House.  “I’m happy to recognize the contributions our estuaries make in the Ocean State and around the country.”

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.


Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921