June 9, 2023

Whitehouse, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Invest in Blue Economy, Spark Innovation in Coastal Communities

Bipartisan, bicameral legislation would support coastal communities by fostering collaboration between different industries

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has joined colleagues to introduce the Ocean Regional Opportunity and Innovation (Ocean ROI) Act.  The bipartisan, bicameral legislation would require the Secretary of Commerce to establish a federal strategy for investing in the nation’s ocean-based economy through the creation of Ocean Innovation Clusters, which would enhance collaboration, promote innovation, and contribute to the equitable and sustainable growth of the Blue Economy.

“The Ocean State is a leader in Blue Economy innovation,” said Whitehouse, co-chair of the Senate Oceans Caucus.  “Our bipartisan legislation will support the ocean economy’s continued growth and job creation by investing in coastal communities across the country.”

The Ocean ROI Act would require the Secretary of Commerce, acting through the administrator of the U.S. Economic Development Agency, and in consultation with the administrator of NOAA, to designate at least one ocean cluster in each of the five domestic NOAA Fisheries regions and the Great Lakes region.  The bill would also create grants for cluster operation and administration and one-time capital investments for physical infrastructure.

“Rhode Island’s best opportunity for transformational economic growth is in the Blue Economy,” said Christian Cowan, Executive Director of the URI Research Foundation.  “This important legislation will provide much needed innovation to support coastal communities, have lasting impacts on climate change and create jobs related to the oceans health.”

The legislation is also led by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and cosponsored by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (I-ME) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK).  Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Representatives María Elvira Salazar (R-FL-27) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME-1).

The full bill text is available here.

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921

Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921