The U.S. Senate unanimously approved a resolution this week declaring Saturday, September 29, to be National Estuaries Day. The resolution was sponsored by U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed, and recognizes the importance of coastal and estuarine regions to our national economy. It also reaffirms the Senate's support for protecting and restoring these vital resources.
Coasts and estuaries contribute more than $800 billion in trade and commerce to the U.S. economy each year and support more than 28 million jobs in commercial and recreational fishing, boating, tourism, and other industries. Furthermore, it is estimated that the nation's estuaries provide habitat for more than 75 percent of America's commercial fish catch, and 80-90 percent of the recreational fish catch.
"In Rhode Island, from fishing to tourism, the strength of our economy is directly tied to the health of our coastal waters," said Whitehouse, who serves as co-chair of the Senate Oceans Caucus. "Estuaries also provide buffers against dangerous winds and storm surges, protecting homes and infrastructure in our coastal communities. I'm glad that we were able to pass this resolution to bring more attention to the importance of preserving healthy estuaries like Narragansett Bay."
"I am pleased the Senate passed Senator Whitehouse's resolution in recognition of National Estuaries Day. Whether it is getting out on the water, helping with a coastal cleanup, or educating kids about the importance of the Bay, this is a great time to learn more about Rhode Island's diverse estuaries and what we can do to protect them," said Reed.
"We are fortunate to have true champions for Narragansett Bay in Senators Reed and Whitehouse," said Jonathan Stone, Executive Director of Save The Bay which recently held its 2nd Annual Beach Slam in celebration of the spirit of National Estuaries Day. "Our coastal waters form the foundation of our economy, our history, and our way of life. We applaud the Senate for passing this resolution and, in so doing, acknowledging the critical role a healthy Narragansett Bay plays in the future health of our State."
Rhode Island has a long history of working to support healthy estuaries. In 1987 Senator John Chafee established the National Estuaries Program to protect and restore estuarine habitats threatened by pollution, overdevelopment, and other threats. Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay was one of the original six estuaries in the program, which has brought millions of dollars in federal funding to the state over the years.