Cantwell Accepts Oceans Leadership Award, Calls for More Oil Spill Protections in Washington State

Senator honored for work on ocean conservation, supporting coastal economies, and Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – On Tuesday night in Washington, D.C., U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) was awarded the “Leadership Award” from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (NMSF). 

The award recognizes Cantwell’s leadership in ocean conservation and her advocacy for the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. The Foundation also recognized Cantwell’s advocacy for sustainable fisheries, keeping Washington’s coastal economies vibrant, and oil spill prevention. Cantwell also introduced the first legislation of its kind to tackle ocean acidification and enhance ocean monitoring, research and forecasting.

“I want to express my thanks to the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation for honoring me with this year’s Leadership Award and for their important work to support our oceans and marine sanctuaries.” said Senator Cantwell.

During her remarks, Cantwell called on Congress, the Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to ramp up oil spill response preparedness and prevention efforts. From 2010 to 2014, more than 1 billion barrels of oil arrived at Washington state oil refineries.

“The Olympic Coast is truly a national treasure. That’s why I have fought so hard to improve oil spill prevention and response policy. Today, I am calling on Congress and our partners at the Coast Guard and NOAA to increase oil spill response efforts including research to understand how to clean-up oil spills in ice and respond to tar sands oil.”

As a senior member of the Senate Commerce Committee and Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Cantwell was instrumental in getting the Coast Guard to secure regulations needed to station the year round oil spill response tug in Neah Bay. In addition, Cantwell secured significant oil spill prevention and response polices, specifically put in place to protect Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the Olympic National Marine Sanctuary.

“Senator Cantwell’s work on behalf of ocean conservation has been invaluable to the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, the entire sanctuary system and all the American communities connected to these destinations,” said Robert J. Trainor, Chair, NMSF Board of Trustees.  “It is our honor to present her with this year’s Leadership Award.”

Carol Bernthal of Port Angeles, Washington serves as the superintendent of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and travelled to Washington, DC for the Ocean Awards Gala where Cantwell was honored.

"I deeply appreciate Senator Cantwell willingness to tackle big issues like ocean acidification that threaten Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, an area renowned for its beauty and rich marine life,” said Bernthal.

A private, non-profit organization, NMSF plays a vital role in the work of the coast-to-coast US sanctuary system through support of research and conservation, education, citizen science, outreach and community engagement.  NMSF is also a respected advocate for ocean awareness and protection with policymakers nationally and worldwide.