Combating Marine Pollution: The Save Our Seas Act
Marine pollution has become an all too common problem. If you were to take a short walk down any beach or river bank, I would almost guarantee you'd find more garbage than you’d be comfortable with seeing, but as of last week, environmentalists are celebrating a small victory with the signing of the Save Our Seas Act.
On October 11th, President Trump signed the Save Our Sea Act into law. The aim of which hopes to curb the ever-growing problem of trash ending up in the world's oceans. Before the signing, the President mentioned "Every year, over 8 million tons of garbage is dumped into our beautiful oceans by many countries of the world. That includes China, that includes Japan, and that includes many, many countries. Though President Trump didn't mention it, the United States is among the top 20 marine polluters of the world, contributing approximately 0.04- 0.11 Million Metric Tons (MMT) per year, according to a study from the journal Science. “This waste, trash, and debris harms not only marine life, but also fishermen, and coastal economies along America's vast stretches." he said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program was signed into law in 2006 and was charged with preventing the negative impacts of marine pollution through the means of removal, prevention, research, regional coordination, and emergency response. The Save Our Seas Act will extend the funding to the program for another five years. The President mentioned, “The legislation also encourages the executive branch to engage with those nations responsible for dumping garbage into our oceans.” It seems as though the current administration is likely setting their sights on China's waste management system, as they contribute approximately 1.32-3.53 MMT of marine debris per year. He then added, “...the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement is the first U.S. trade agreement ever to include commitments by the parties to cooperate to address land- and sea-based pollution and improve waste management.” The US government’s commitment to take on the top polluting countries of the world is a bold strategy, but it may just be what the world needs.
The Save Our Seas Act was passed with unanimous consent in the Senate, serving as a testament to what can be accomplished when the government sets aside their partisan differences. While there are certain areas of the law that could be expanded on, it is undoubtedly a step in the right direction and a much-needed victory for conservation efforts.