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Public Statements

World Ocean Day

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. HIRONO. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H. Res. 1330, a resolution recognizing June 8 as World Ocean Day. Hawaii is the only state in the nation that is surrounded entirely by ocean, giving us a unique appreciation for the vast resource that is the Pacific Ocean. Almost every household good in Hawaii was shipped over the ocean. Our state's economy relies on our harbors--large and small--and the beaches that draw visitors to Hawaii. The ocean provides recreational activities such as surfing, swimming, and fishing for our residents and visitors to enjoy. It would be difficult to find an aspect of life in Hawaii that is not somehow affected by the Pacific Ocean.

The Native Hawaiian culture is also deeply tied to the ocean. Polynesian explorers discovered Hawaii traveling tremendous distance in canoes, long before the so-called "discovery'' of Hawaii by Captain Cook. The Kumulipo chant, known as the Hawaiian creation chant, places the origin of life in the oceans, beginning with the coral polyp.

Hawaii is home to the world's most ancient seal, the Hawaiian monk seal. My district includes the largest marine protected area in the United States, the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, as well as one of the most important breeding grounds for the endangered Humpback Whale.

The people of Hawaii have always relied on the ocean, but the situation in the Gulf Coast illustrates that the oceans belong to the world. Countries have political boundaries, but the ocean and its denizens do not. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has devastated that region and now threatens the entire East Coast because of the Loop Current, the Gulf Stream, and other ocean currents.

People in landlocked states also depend on the oceans, which absorb up to a quarter of the world's carbon dioxide. As humans have increased their carbon dioxide output in recent decades, the ocean has grown increasingly acidic. Over the last five years, we have learned that this acidification endangers coral, algae, shellfish, and other small organisms that support the base of the food chain.

What happens to the ocean happens to the world. Whether landlocked or surrounded by ocean, we all depend on the benefits of healthy oceans. Fish stocks, ocean currents, and carbon dioxide do not abide by political boundaries. We, too, must work across our borders to unite with other nations in order to be careful and conscientious stewards of the ocean. For these reasons, I urge my colleagues to support this resolution to recognize June 8 as World Ocean Day.


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