Cantwell Named Chair of Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and the Coast Guard

Management of ocean and fishery resources, Coast Guard oversight, oil spill safeguards, climate change, among senator’s top priorities on panel

WASHINGTON, DC – Wednesday, Senate Commerce Committee Chair Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) appointed U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to lead the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard. The subcommittee oversees the Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and has jurisdiction over ocean and coastal issues, including tsunami readiness and fishery management. It also handles environmental issues connected to maritime activities, including oil pollution, invasive species, and offshore development, and has jurisdiction over NOAA’s National Weather Service and climate change research program.

“With so many jobs in our state dependent on shipping, fishing, and other maritime activities, and with dozens of our communities vulnerable to an oil spill or tsunami, this panel’s work is critical to our state,” said Cantwell. “I’m looking forward to promoting scientific research and sustainable management of our ocean and coastal resources, ensuring the Coast Guard is able to fulfill its many critical missions, and better protecting our waterways from pollution.”

During the 109th Congress, Cantwell served as the subcommittee’s top Democrat and played a key role in developing legislation to authorize Coast Guard operations, improve our tsunami warning system, and reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976—the nation’s primary law governing fishing in federal waters.

During the 110th Congress, Cantwell will continue in her oversight role, helping to ensure that the Coast Guard continues protecting our ports, the safety of mariners, and our marine environment. The Coast Guard is in the process of modernizing its fleet through an acquisition program called Deepwater that has encountered problems including faulty design work, cost and schedule overruns, and a lack of contract transparency. Adequate oversight of this program will be one of Cantwell’s top priorities as subcommittee chair.

Last year, Cantwell introduced the Oil Spill Pollution Prevention and Response Act (OPPRA) to bolster authorities for the Coast Guard and NOAA to prevent and respond to oil spills, which represent the greatest environmental risk to Washington state waters and shorelines. In the 110th Congress, improving oil spill prevention and response will be a priority of the subcommittee. Cantwell will also work to improve management of ocean, fishery, and coastal resources to build on the progress made by the newly reauthorized Magnuson-Stevens Act, signed into law earlier this month.

The Subcommittee will consider many of the nation’s most important ocean policy laws which are overdue for reauthorization, including the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Coastal Zone Management Act, the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, and the National Sea Grant College Program Act. In addition, passing the National Ocean Exploration Act, the Ocean and Coastal Observing System Act, the Coral Reef Conservation Amendments Act of 2005, the Ocean and Coastal Mapping Act, and the Coastal and Estuarine Land Protection Act will also be among Cantwell’s priorities on the subcommittee.

Cantwell will also serve on the Science, Technology, and Innovation Subcommittee, the Interstate Commerce, Trade, and Tourism Subcommittee, and the Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security Subcommittee.