Senator Maria Cantwell knows Washington state's coastal areas and marine waters are not only an important economic engine for the state, but are central to the quality of life we enjoy. Coastal tourism, marine industries, and Washington's robust commercial fishing sector provide important jobs which sustain Washington's coastal communities. Maria works to make maritime transportation safe, deliver better tsunami preparedness, sustainable fisheries management, marine pollution prevention, and recovery of Pacific salmon and Puget Sound orcas.
As chair of the Coast Guard and Fisheries Subcommittee, Maria works to ensure that the Coast Guard has everything it needs to provide critical maritime security and marine safety. In addition to its homeland security missions, the Coast Guard enforces U.S. fisheries laws, intercepts drug smugglers, safeguards the lives and property of mariners with its search and rescue program, and protects the marine environment against pollution. Maria also helps the Coast Guard maintain its polar icebreaking fleet of three ships, which are homeported in Seattle. Earlier this year, she prevented the relocation of the Healy icebreaker, saving taxpayers at least $8 million annually.
Promoting a Robust and Sustainable Fisheries Industry
Maria has worked to improve fishery management and promote conservation while supporting a robust national fishing industry. The Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Management Act, named after former Washington state Senator Warren Magnuson and Senator Ted Stevens from Alaska, is the nation's premier law guiding fishing in federal waters. In 2006, Maria worked closely with Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Stevens to ensure the Senate passed an updated new version of this important piece of legislation and made sure several provisions important to Washington state's commercial fisheries and fishery managers were included. Maria believes that with careful and wise use of these resources, this important industry can continue to benefit fishermen and consumers well into the future.
Recovering Pacific Salmon
Maria is a strong advocate for salmon recovery and knows healthy Pacific salmon stocks are an important indicator of our region's environment quality. In addition to being an icon of the Northwest, salmon support our lucrative recreational and commercial fishing industry and involve tens of thousands of Pacific Northwest jobs. Since taking office, Maria has worked diligently to secured critical funding for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, the biggest share of which goes to Washington state. Maria firmly believes Washington state can meet its energy needs while achieving salmon recovery.
Improving Tsunami Warning and Detection
Following the tragic Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, Maria is working to make sure a similar disaster does not harm Washington's coastal communities. Because of the 680-mile long Cascadia fault off the coasts of Washington and Oregon that is similar to the fault that produced the Indian Ocean tsunami, Washington state is particular vulnerable to a major tsunami strike. The last major Cascadia event in 1700 caused a tsunami that hit the Washington coast with estimated 30-foot high ocean surge. Government scientists warn that there is a possibility of another major quake within the next 50 years. Because a Cascadia fault-generated tsunami would allow less than 20 minutes warning, Maria believes that tsunami education, accurate detection, effective warning systems, and efficient evacuation plans are essential for protecting coastal residents, and she has secured funds for warning sirens along the Washington coast. Earlier this year, Maria secured $500,000 for 10 additional warning sirens in vulnerable communities.
Saving our Puget Sound Orcas
Maria remains very concerned over recent declines in the population of our beloved Puget Sound orcas. For the last four years, she has successfully secured funding for research to determine the factors that may be causing the population's decline and to identify specific measures needed to help restore the population. Maria has also opposed efforts to weaken the Marine Mammal Protection Act authored by the late Senator Warren Magnuson.
Improving Oil Spill Prevention
Recognizing the damage a major Puget Sound oil spill would mean to Washington state's economy, environment, and quality of life, Maria has sought to improve oil spill prevention and response. She held a field hearing in Seattle in August 2005 to identify ways to better protect our state waterways. Following the hearing, Maria introduced the Oil Pollution Prevention and Response Act to try and reduce the risk of a catastrophic oil spill and improve responses should a spill occur. Maria also worked with Commerce Chairman Stevens to reinstate and significantly increase the vital Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.
Preventing Puget Sound from Becoming a Superhighway for Supertankers
Maria blocked legislation to overturn 28-year-old protections authored by former Senator Warren Magnuson limiting oil tanker traffic in the Puget Sound. Maria argued that Washington state facilities already refine more than double the petroleum products that we need to meet our in-state demand and Washingtonians overwhelming don't want to see Puget Sound become an oil superport just so oil companies can ship their refined petroleum products to other regions and overseas.