Stevens, Inouye Comment on Progress on Ocean Issues

February 3, 2006

WASHINGTON, DC – In response to concerns raised in the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative’s report card released Friday regarding progress on ocean issues, U.S. Senators Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Chairman and Co-Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, commented on the Commission’s scrutiny and expressed their shared commitment to improve America’s ocean policies. 

In the first session of the 109th Congress, the Senate has approved 6 Commerce Committee bills on ocean policies, and the Committee has approved another 4 that are awaiting Senate consideration. While work remains, the two leaders are optimistic that Congress, the Administration, and the Commission can do more to speed the pace of conclusive, legislative progress in the 2nd Session. 
"The Commerce Committee has accomplished a tremendous amount of work on ocean policy legislation in the first year of Dan's and my Co-Chairmanship, passing 10 different bipartisan bills implementing many of the recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, including a reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. We continue to work toward seeing these bills become law this year," said Committee Chairman Ted Stevens.
Co-Chairman Inouye commented, “We share the Commission’s dedication to keeping national attention on oceans, and we are disappointed that not everyone shares this goal right now.  In particular, I am dismayed that oceans are entirely ignored in the President's new science initiative.  I am proud of the progress this Committee has made, starting with the legislation in 2000 that created the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy.  Yet without like-minded partners, we cannot fully succeed.  We must continue to remind everyone that oceans sustain the life of all Americans, wherever they live.  We will not give up our stalwart effort to make oceans a priority, and we hope others will join us this year.”
Senate Commerce Committee Progress on Ocean Policy in 2005
(1) Action on Ocean Bills
  • S. 362 Marine Debris – Passed Senate, Partial action by one House Committee
  • S. 1390 Coral Reefs – Passed Senate, No Action in the House
  • S. 39 Ocean Exploration – Passed Senate, No Action in the House
  • S. 361 Ocean and Coastal Observations – Passed Senate, No Action in the House
  • S. 50 Tsunami/Coastal Hazards Preparedness – Passed Senate, No Action in House
  • S. 1280 Vessel/Oil Pollution provisions in Coast Guard bill passed and in conference
  • S. 364 Coordinated Ocean Mapping – Committee Reported
  • S. 360 CZMA – Committee Reported
  • S. 363 Ballast Water – Committee Reported
  • S. 2012 Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act – Committee approved
  • S. 1215 Coastal and Estuarine Land Protection Act – Introduced, Committee hearing to be held 2/8/06
  • S. 1195, Offshore Aquaculture – Introduced, hearing planned for March
(2) Committee Subcommittee Structure – Better Ocean and Coastal Oversight
  • Re-instituted the National Ocean Policy Study
  • Coast Guard and Fisheries Subcommittee
  • Established a Disaster Prediction and Prevention Subcommittee
  • Established Global Climate Change Subcommittee
(3) Offshore Ocean Governance 
  • Senators Stevens and Inouye introduced the Administration’s Offshore Aquaculture bill (S. 1195); Hearing planned for March
  • NOPS is planning hearing on offshore permitting/governance this year
(4) International Leadership
  • S. 2012, Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization bill, title IV, contains groundbreaking provisions to ensure international compliance to end Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated fishing on the high seas, as well as to reduce bycatch of protected species in high seas fisheries.  Title V, VI contain implementing legislation for two treaties recently ratified by the Foreign Relations Committee (Western Pacific Tuna and Whiting)
  • Senator Stevens, Inouye, and Lugar wrote multiple letters encouraging ratification of the U.N. Law of the Sea treaty. 
  • Senator Stevens testified before the Foreign Relations and EPW Committees in favor of the ratification of the U.N. Law of the Sea treaty. 
(5) Fisheries Management Reform
  • The Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act (S. 2012) addresses virtually all the recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy

(6) New Funding for Ocean Policy and Programs
  • The Magnuson bill contains a new Fisheries Conservation and Management Fund
  • Portions of the Senate Budget bill contained $50 million for Tsunami programs – the Tsunami bill provides the appropriate authorizations
  • NOTE: The Administration “Ocean Action Plan” priorities are not funded by the Administration, including areas that the Commerce Committee has acted on, i.e., Oceans and Human Health, Marine Debris, Observing Systems, etc.