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Senate Concurrent Resolution 49—Designating The Week Of June 9, 2003, As National Oceans Week And Urging The President To Issue A Proclamation Calling Upon The People Of The United States To…

Ms. SNOWE (for herself, Mr. Kerry, Mr. McCain, Mr. Hollings, Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Dodd, Mr. Lautenberg, Mr. Wyden, Mr. Cochran, Mr. Carper, Mr. Inouye, Mr. Breaux, Mr. Sununu, Mrs. Boxer, Mr. Akaka, Mr. Reed, Mr. Nelson of Florida, Ms. Cantwell, Mrs. Clinton, and Mrs. Feinstein) submitted the following concurrent resolution; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary:

Whereas 95 percent of the deep ocean is unexplored and unknown, and the ocean is truly the last frontier on Earth for science and civilization; Whereas the ocean comprises nearly three quarters of the Earth's surface and sustains 80 percent of all life on Earth, including a large part of the Earth's biodiversity; Whereas the oceans play a critical role in the global water cycle, carbon cycle and in regulating climate; and over 90 percent of the oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere, essential to life on Earth, comes from the world's oceans and rivers; Whereas the oceans are an important source of food, provide a wealth of other natural products, and the oceans and sea floor contain vast energy and mineral resources that are critical to the economy of the United States and the world; Whereas the United States has more than 95,000 miles of coastline and more than 50 percent of the population of the United States lives within 50 miles of the ocean or the Great Lakes; Whereas coastal areas are regions of remarkably high biological productivity, are of considerable importance for a variety of recreational and commercial activities, and provide a vital means of transportation; Whereas ocean resources are limited and susceptible to change as a direct and indirect result of human activities, and such changes can impact the ability of the ocean to provide the benefits upon which the Nation depends; Whereas the rich biodiversity of marine organisms provides society with an essential biomedical resource, a promising source of novel compounds with therapeutic potential, and a potentially important contribution to the national economy; Whereas there exists significant promise for the development of new ocean technologies for stewardship of ocean resources that will contribute to the economy through business and manufacturing innovations and the creation of new jobs; Whereas the President's Panel on Ocean Exploration recommended to the White House and to the Congress in its Year 2000 final report, ``Discovering Earth's Final Frontier: A U.S. Strategy for Ocean Exploration,'' a 10-year program to launch the first national plan for ocean exploration; Whereas the Oceans Act of 2000 passed by the United States Congress authorized the establishment of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and directed it to conduct a comprehensive review of present and future ocean programs and activities and provide comprehensive ocean policy recommendations to the Congress and the President by 2003; and Whereas our oceans are vital to our national security and our national economy, and with America's greatest era of ocean exploration and discovery still ahead: Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring) That it is the sense of the Congress that-- (1) the ocean is of paramount importance to the economic future, environmental quality, and national security of the United States; (2) the United States has a responsibility to exercise and promote comprehensive stewardship and understanding of the ocean and the living marine resources it contains; and (3) the week of June 9, 2003, be designated as National Oceans Week and urges the President to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe this week with appropriate recognition, programs, ceremonies, and activities to further ocean literacy, education, and exploration.

Sen. Olympia J. Snowe

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Mr. President, I am pleased to rise today to submit a Senate Concurrent Resolution designating the week of June 9, 2003 as National Oceans Week.

As a Nation with more than 95,000 miles of coastline, the United States is highly dependent on the resources and services of the oceans that affect many important aspects of our lives, often in ways we do not fully realize. As Chair of the Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oceans, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, I believe it is important for us to recognize the many benefits that the oceans provide, and I am happy that 19 other Senators are joining me in sponsoring this Senate Concurrent Resolution that formally recognizes the ocean's many benefits.

Our oceans are capable of significant biological productivity that produces food, which provides nourishment for citizens across the globe and sustains fishery dependent communities. Oceans regulate global climate and the cycling of oxygen, carbon, and water in our atmosphere, and oceans provide a vital means of transporting goods between countries and thereby support the global economy. In addition to these biological, physical, and economic benefits, the oceans remain a largely unexplored domain that can enrich our lives in countless other ways. For all these reasons and more, I believe it is important to recognize the many ways we rely upon the oceans.

The capacity of the oceans to supply these resources and services, however, is finite. Much of our nation's attention is currently focused on several recent reports that point to the destructive nature of foreign overfishing, the negative impacts of harmful algal blooms and oil spills, and the coastal habitat loss associated with uncoordinated development activities. Collectively, these and other human impacts can significantly affect how oceans function. We need to be constantly looking for ways to minimize these impacts and help sustain the oceans' productive capacity, which in turn will provide us with the resources that enhance the quality of our lives.

Given the extent to which the United States depends on and uses the oceans, it is incumbent upon us to take a leadership role in ocean science and conservation. We must recognize this responsibility and continue to seek ways to promote comprehensive stewardship and understanding of the ocean and the resources it contains. For this and other reasons, I co-sponsored Senator Hollings' legislation establishing the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy in 2000, and I look forward to reviewing its recommendations later this year. The Resolution we are submitting today urges the President to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe the week of June 9, 2003, with appropriate recognition, programs, and activities to further ocean literacy, education, and exploration. During this week on Capitol Hill, I am pleased to be an Honorary Co-host of Capitol Hill Oceans Week, a series of events and discussions designed to facilitate awareness of the oceans within the Congress. As a country, we should use this week to further expand our awareness of the oceans and engage in discussions and activities that will help ocean resource conservation.

I would like to thank my fellow Senators who are joining me in this effort to establish National Oceans Week, and I hope that this week will help contribute to a better awareness of and appreciation for the oceans. It is through such efforts that ocean stewardship can expand and take hold as an important national ethic.

(At the request of Mr. Daschle, the following statement was ordered to be printed in the Record.)

Sen. John Kerry

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Mr. President, I am proud to cosponsor this resolution with Senators Snowe, Hollings, and McCain. In 1998 we recognized the International Year of the Oceans, and it is time we underscore the importance of oceans in our daily lives through an annual celebration of National Oceans Week. The global oceans need our attention now more than ever. Today, we are faced with the challenge of sustainably managing our interactions with the marine environment, in the face of increasing pressures from population growth and a global economy. While we have been making significant progress in this arena, there are constant reminders that we have not yet achieved our goal of supporting ocean-related industries while maintaining high ecological standards.

The recent oil spill of the Bouchard barge in Buzzard's Bay, MA, vividly demonstrates that we must be ever vigilant in striving for the balance between ecological protection and economic growth--as well as the need to balance competing economic interests--in this case, an important local seafood industry with our need for energy. Although we have seen a marked improvement in the safe marine transport of oil since the passage of the Oil Pollution Act in 1990, all possible care must be taken to ensure that we have a system in place that adequately protects our marine environment.

Marine fisheries are also a vitally important component of our coastal economies and culture, especially in the Bay State. We are making progress in restoring our overfished stocks to sustainable levels, and we are committed to staying the course to reduce mortality, improve water quality and restore habitat. But we must press forward to ensure all nations are pulling their weight in providing sustainable fisheries management. Recent reports show international fleets have had a dramatic impact that appears to go largely unchecked. Living marine resources, particularly highly migratory species like tuna and swordfish, know no boundaries, and we cannot tolerate lawlessness by any nation in the management of these stocks.

The Marine Mammal Protection Act has proved to be a very successful conservation tool, bringing numerous species back from the brink of extinction. However, there is still much more to be done. I am particularly familiar with the example of the North Atlantic right whales, one of the most endangered species of marine mammals in the world, with a population of approximately 300 individuals. Unfortunately, our local New England waters are often the areas where these endangered whales literally collide with the fishing industry and the marine transportation industry. The plight of the right whales highlights the importance of working with a wide variety of interests to find solutions that will make a difference.

Congress has already asked a panel of experts to develop a plan of action for our oceans in the Oceans Act of 2000. This federal mandated U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy will help us understand what steps are needed to advance our knowledge and improve our management of the marine environment. Later this year, the Commission will make recommendations on how we can improve our ocean governance, investment and implementation, research, education and marine operations, and stewardship. Despite these great efforts, there is much more to do. Increased public attention to our Nation's ocean issues is essential if we are to make further headway. This is why, today, I am honored to join Senator Snowe in introducing this resolution to declare the week of June 9, 2003, as National Oceans Week.