December 7, 2022

Whitehouse Secures Major Oceans Policy Wins in NDAA

Provisions in must-pass defense bill will boost the blue economy, improve marine health, and enhance understanding of our oceans

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) released the following statement today on the inclusion of several major oceans provisions in the FY2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  The defense bill will accelerate maritime technology innovation, improve ocean and coastal mapping, protect marine mammals, and harden our defenses against pirate fishing, among other important provisions.

“I’m pleased to announce the inclusion of a comprehensive oceans package in this year’s must-pass NDAA,” said Whitehouse, a co-founder of the bipartisan Senate Oceans Caucus.  “From promoting ocean science to conserving vulnerable species and habitats, the defense bill is an ambitious step toward improving the health of the marine ecosystems that are intertwined with our way of life in the Ocean State.  Thank you to all the ocean champions for helping make today’s win possible.”  

Text of the FY2023 NDAA was released today.  The BLUE GLOBE Act, a bill sponsored by Whitehouse and Senator Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) was incorporated into the NDAA.  The BLUE GLOBE Act will accelerate technology innovation, promote a stronger maritime workforce, and bolster the blue economy.  Also included in the NDAA is the National Ocean Exploration Act, which Whitehouse co-sponsored, to update national priorities for ocean mapping and exploration.  Several other key oceans measures made it into the sweeping package. 

Whitehouse cofounded the Senate Oceans Caucus in 2011.  The Oceans Caucus works to find common ground in responding to issues facing the oceans and coasts, which support millions of jobs.  The Oceans Caucus has focused on ending illegal fishing, reducing marine debris, and improving ocean data and monitoring.

Whitehouse has a long record of success in securing bipartisan oceans wins in the NDAA.  In last year’s defense bill, Whitehouse partnered with Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) to strengthen maritime security provisions related to illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.  Whitehouse’s provision ensured the Department of Defense and Coast Guard have the legal authorities needed to conduct joint maritime law enforcement operations to combat IUU fishing.  In the FY2021 NDAA, Whitehouse championed measures that required the Department of Defense to update Congress on efforts to tackle IUU fishing, directed the Navy to work with the Coast Guard to assess solutions for tracking vessels engaged in unlawful activity at sea, and requested that the Office of Naval Intelligence provide an update on foreign governments using distant-water fishing fleets to undermine American interests.

Meaghan McCabe, (401) 453-5294

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