Whitehouse-Murkowski Bill to Further Understanding of Oceans, Great Lakes, and Coasts Advances Out of Committee
BLUE GLOBE Act would support innovation, accelerate development of marine technologies, and improve monitoring of important bodies of water
U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), co-chairs of the bipartisan Senate Oceans Caucus, have announced that their legislation to advance data collection and monitoring of the Great Lakes, oceans, bays, estuaries, and coasts was approved by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee by voice vote yesterday. The Bolstering Long-Term Understanding and Exploration of the Great Lakes, Oceans, Bays, and Estuaries Act, or the BLUE GLOBE Act, would accelerate technology innovation, plan for a stronger maritime workforce, and develop a better understanding of the Blue Economy.
“I’m pleased that our BLUE GLOBE Act passed out of committee with bipartisan support,” said Senator Whitehouse. “There’s still so much we don’t know about our oceans. We need more high-quality research and data to guide investments in the Blue Economy and our marine workforce.”
“I’m proud that our bill, the BLUE GLOBE Act, prioritizes innovation and development of technology. New and improved data sources will allow us to strategically link economic growth and stewardship of our oceans, bays, Great Lakes, and estuaries. For Alaskans, investing in ocean science will help provide greater opportunities in national security, tourism, fishing, shipping, and other marine activities,” said Senator Murkowski. “Improvements to ocean monitoring, exploration, and innovation will pave the way for increasing Alaska’s sustainable seafood production, support our coastal communities and residents, and develop stronger transportation, recreation, and energy production—all part of Alaska’s vibrant blue economy.”
The BLUE GLOBE Act would accelerate ocean data and monitoring innovation by giving NOAA Cooperative Institutes a stronger focus on technology advancement. It creates a new ocean innovation prize, and tasks the National Academy of Sciences with assessing the potential for an Advanced Research Project Agency–Oceans (ARPA-O). The legislation would also add innovative technology components to the 2020 NDAA’s Maritime SAFE Act to better address Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. This measure follows on successful work of the Oceans Caucus to support the passage of four international agreements aimed at combatting IUU fishing and the related enabling legislation.
The BLUE GLOBE Act reauthorizes a number of NOAA’s hydrographic activities, including nautical mapping and charting, hydrographic surveys, and the operation of hydrographic survey vessels, and directs heads of relevant federal agencies to more accurately measure the value of the Blue Economy. The bill also calls for the National Academies of Science to conduct a study on the oceanic scientific workforce and steps the Federal government can take to improve workforce diversity, remove barriers to transitioning scientists into federal careers, and develop a workforce program and plan.
The bipartisan Senate Oceans Caucus works to find common ground in responding to issues facing the oceans and coasts, which support millions of jobs in America. The Oceans Caucus has focused on ending illegal fishing, reducing marine debris, and improving ocean data and monitoring. Whitehouse and Murkowski founded the Caucus in 2011. It currently has 41 members.