Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) joined their colleagues in cosponsoring a bipartisan resolution designating September 19th through September 26th as National Estuaries Week. The legislation recognizes the importance of coastal and estuarine regions to the national economy and reaffirms the Senate’s commitment to protecting and restoring these important natural resources. The Senate passed the resolution unanimously.
“The waters off Maine’s coast provide a healthy ecosystem for our state’s fisheries and support a vigorous tourism industry, both of which sustain thousands of jobs and generate billions of dollars in revenue for our state each year,” said Senators Collins and King in a joint statement. “This National Estuaries Week, we remain committed to protecting Maine’s coastal regions, including their importance to sustaining our economy and key industries.”
An estuary is a partially enclosed, coastal body of water where freshwater from rivers and streams mixes with salt water from the ocean. Estuarine regions of the United States contribute considerably to the national economy. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, estuary regions cover only 13 percent of the land area of the continental United States, but make up nearly half of the country’s economic output. Maine is home to the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, a 1600-acre research, education, and recreation facility.
Between 2007 and 2016, employment levels in economic sectors relating to oceans and estuaries rose by 14.5% – during that same period, the average employment level of the entire United States economy increased by 4.8%. Estuaries currently face considerable threats. It is estimated that the United States lost more than half of the wetlands that existed in the 13 Colonies by the 1980s. In addition, many bays that once constituted important fisheries are now considered “dead zones” filled with nutrient pollution, chemical wastes, harmful algae, and marine debris.
In addition to Senators Collins and King, the resolution was also cosponsored by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tom Carper (D-DE), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mark Warner (D-VA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Ed Markey (D-MA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Marco Rubio (R-FL).
Click HERE to read the full resolution.