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Public Statements

Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2012 Amendments

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. FARR. Thank you for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to highlight title VI of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2012, which amends the Marine Debris Program.

This partnership between NOAA and the United States Coast Guard has been hugely beneficial to our Nation's coastal communities. It has improved research and debris removal activities at sea and has built a greater understanding of the challenges we face in addressing this threat. There are so many successful projects funded by the Marine Debris Program, which is astounding considering that the program spends far less than $10 million.

I want to highlight the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation NOAA grant program for Marine Debris Research and Technology. From 2005 to 2011, this program supported 46 projects involving fishermen, ports, and marinas, and they leveraged $2.7 million in NOAA funding with $2.9 million in non-Federal matching funds.

Another program, Fishing for Energy, is one innovative program that installs collection bins for commercial fishermen to dispose of old or unwanted fishing gear. To date, this program has disposed of more than 700 tons of obsolete or derelict gear, which annually accounts for $250 million in lost marketable lobster and which saves up to $792 million in damages to boat propellers from derelict fishing gear. If that isn't enough, an Energy-from-Waste facility recycles the gear and harnesses electricity from the recycling process. It doesn't cost the fishermen anything to dispose of this gear, and that's why it's such a successful program.

This small Federal investment results in a huge cost savings. Marine debris is a much larger and growing problem. With the disaster in Japan last year and with recent storms like Sandy, cleaning up debris requires both resources and coordination between agencies and States. While I commend the bipartisan support and leadership of my colleagues to get this bill to the President, I am disappointed that the program's authorization has not been extended. I will continue to work for the permanent reauthorization of the Marine Debris Program because it is a critical program for coastal communities.

I urge my colleagues to support this bill, which is one of bipartisan-bicameral compromise. I thank Chairman Mica, Chairman Hastings, Ranking Member Rahall, and Ranking Member Markey for their leadership in bringing my bill, H.R. 1171, to the floor for passage out of the House. I thank Chairman LoBiondo and Ranking Member Larsen for including this important language in the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2012. I urge your support.

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