Press Releases

Larsen Leads Congressional Estuary Caucus Co-Chairs to Introduce National Estuaries Week Resolution

Washington, D.C., July 31, 2020
Reps. Rick Larsen (WA-02), Bill Posey (FL-08), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01) and Brian Mast (FL-18), co-chairs of the Congressional Estuary Caucus, introduced a bipartisan resolution designating the week of September 19 through September 26, 2020, as National Estuaries Week.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Reps. Rick Larsen (WA-02), Bill Posey (FL-08), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01) and Brian Mast (FL-18), co-chairs of the Congressional Estuary Caucus, introduced a bipartisan resolution designating the week of September 19 through September 26, 2020, as National Estuaries Week.

Founded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1988, National Estuaries Week recognizes the importance of the nation’s estuaries, the many economic benefits they provide to local communities and their role in sustaining critical habitats for fish and wildlife.

“In the Pacific Northwest, protecting estuaries is vital for the environment, our way of life and the economy,” said Rep. Larsen. “Washington state’s Second District is home to parts of Puget Sound, the nation’s largest estuary by water volume, and its connecting rivers and streams, diverse wildlife and marine ecosystems. I will continue to champion efforts to protect these critical natural resources and secure federal funding to preserve Washington state’s lands and waters for current and future generations to enjoy.”

“National Estuaries Week is important to raising awareness to the public about the critical role that our estuaries play within our communities and encouraging others to get involved in our local estuary programs,” said Rep. Posey.

“Our nation’s estuaries are often overlooked and undervalued, but they are among the world’s most productive working ecosystems,” said Rep. Bonamici. “Oregon’s economic vitality is dependent on the health of the Pacific Ocean and the lower Columbia River estuary. Investing in the conservation and restoration of estuaries will help mitigate the climate crisis, restore habitats for endangered fisheries, improve water quality, and strengthen the resiliency of our coastal communities. I’m glad to join my Congressional Estuary Caucus Co-Chairs in introducing this resolution to recognize the importance of estuaries.”

“Our estuaries are home to some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, and they are a driving force behind Florida’s tourism economy,” said Rep. Mast. “Raising awareness for the important role estuaries play in our everyday lives is critical as we continue the fight to protect our environment and preserve our natural resources.”

According to the NOAA, estuary regions cover only 13 percent of the land area in the continental United States but contribute to nearly half of the nation’s economic output and 40 percent of jobs. However, ongoing challenges of acidifying waters, harmful algal blooms marine debris and extreme weather events threaten the sustainability of these diverse ecosystems.

The text of the resolution, as introduced, is as follows:

RESOLUTION Expressing support for the designation of the week of September 19 through September 26, 2020, as ‘‘National Estuaries Week’’.

Whereas estuary regions cover only 13 percent of the land area in the continental United States but contain nearly 43 percent of the population, 40 percent of the jobs, and nearly 50 percent of the economic output of the United States;

Whereas the Nation’s oceans, estuaries, and Great Lakes continue to fuel economic growth across the Nation with employment from the estuarine and ocean economy growing at 2.7 percent in 2016, compared to the national average employment growth of 1.7 percent;

Whereas estuary, ocean, and Great Lakes economy sectors created 85,000 new jobs between 2015 to 2016, employed 3,300,000 people, and contributed $124,000,000,000 in gross domestic product;

Whereas employment in the ocean economy increased by 14.5 percent from prerecession levels (2007), three times the rate of recovery of the United States economy as a whole;

Whereas the commercial and recreational fishing industries support over 1,740,000 jobs in the United States;

Whereas, in 2017—

  1. commercial and recreational saltwater fishing in the United States generated more than $244,000,000,000 in sales and contributed $110,700,000,000 to the gross domestic product of the United States;

(2) angler trip expenditures totaled nearly $10,500,000,000; and

(3) saltwater recreational fishing supported 487,000 jobs, generated $73,800,000,000 in sales impacts across the economy, and contributed $41,500,000,000 to the gross domestic product of the United States;

Whereas estuaries provide vital habitats for—

(1) countless species of fish and wildlife, including more than 68 percent of the commercial fish catch in the United States by value and 80 percent of the recreational fish catch in the United States by weight; and

(2) many species that are listed as threatened or endangered species;

Whereas estuaries provide critical ecosystem services that protect human health and public safety, including water filtration, flood control, shoreline stabilization, erosion prevention, and the protection of coastal communities during hurricanes, storms, and other extreme weather events;

Whereas, by the 1980s, the United States had already lost more than 50 percent of the wetlands that existed in the original 13 colonies;

Whereas some bays in the United States that were once filled with fish and oysters have become dead zones filled with excess nutrients, chemical waste, and marine debris;

Whereas harmful algal blooms are hurting fish, wildlife, and human health, and are causing serious ecological and economic harm to some estuaries;

Whereas changes in sea level can affect estuarine water quality and estuarine habitats;

Whereas section 320 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1330) (commonly known as the ‘‘Clean Water Act’’) authorizes the development of comprehensive conservation and management plans to ensure that the designated uses of estuaries are protected and to restore and maintain the—

(1) chemical, physical, and biological integrity of estuaries;

(2) water quality;

(3) balanced indigenous population of shellfish, fish, and wildlife; and

(4) recreational activities in estuaries;

Whereas the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (16 U.S.C. 1451 et seq.) provides that the policy of the United States is to preserve, protect, develop, and, if possible, restore or enhance the resources of the coastal zone of the United States, including estuaries, for current and future generations;

Whereas 28 coastal and Great Lakes States and territories of the United States operate or contain a National Estuary Program or a National Estuarine Research Reserve;

Whereas scientific study leads to a better understanding of the benefits of estuaries to human and ecological communities;

Whereas the Federal Government, State, local, and Tribal governments, national and community organizations, and individuals work together to effectively manage the estuaries of the United States;

Whereas estuary restoration efforts restore natural infrastructure in local communities in a cost-effective manner, helping to create jobs and reestablish the natural functions of estuaries that yield countless benefits; and

Whereas the week of September 19 through September 26, 2020, is recognized as ‘‘National Estuaries Week’’ to increase awareness among all people of the United States, including Federal Government and State, local, and Tribal government officials, about the importance of healthy estuaries and the need to protect and restore estuaries:

Now, therefore, be it

Resolved,

That the House of Representatives—

(1) expresses support for the designation of ‘‘National Estuaries Week’’;

(2) supports the goals and ideals of National Estuaries Week;

(3) acknowledges the importance of estuaries to sustaining employment in the United States and the economic well-being and prosperity of the United States;

(4) recognizes that persistent threats undermine the health of estuaries;

(5) applauds the work of national and community organizations and public partners that promote public awareness, understanding, protection, and restoration of estuaries;

(6) supports the scientific study, preservation, protection, and restoration of estuaries; and

(7) expresses the intent of the House to continue working to understand, protect, and restore the estuaries of the United States.

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