The House Oceans Caucus (HOC) was formed nearly a decade ago to create a bipartisan voice within Congress on ocean issues. Representatives Sam Farr from California and Representative Don Young from Alaska are the 113th Congressional co-chairs. The goal of the HOC is to build awareness, to exchange information and ideas, and to explore important issues that relate to the oceans.
Together, the co-chairs represent diverse ocean and Great Lakes environments and interests and work together to disseminate timely and relevant information to the 67 bipartisan members of the HOC. This year, the HOC has sponsored a briefing about how the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Education connects schools and communities to NOAA resources including people, places and data in order to advance the agency’s mission. Educators, scientists and charitable foundations described how NOAA science is transforming classrooms and communities. Throughout the 113th Congress, we plan on highlighting additional pertinent ocean issues, such as ocean acidification, marine debris and ocean observing. In past years, the HOC sponsored a series of briefings on topics including coral reef conservation, the Magnuson Stevens Act, and how the oceans relate to human health.
While it is easy to think that the borders of the United States end at the shoreline, we in fact have jurisdiction over the ocean and its resources for 200 nautical miles. This area, our exclusive economic zone, spans 3.4 million square nautical miles and is not only the largest in the world but nearly 1.3 times larger than our terrestrial landmass. Not surprisingly the ocean is one of our greatest natural resources and serves as the foundation for our nation's security and commerce, culture and recreation. For example, the ocean-dependent economy employed 2.8 million people and contributed $258 billion dollars to the US GDP in 2010. Further, our nation's coastal states account for 80% of our population, 83% of our output, and more than three quarters of our national growth in terms of population, employment and GDP (data from the National Ocean Economics Program).
These statistics underscore the importance of ensuring that our oceans remain a part of policy discussions in Congress, and this is the goal of the House Oceans Caucus.
SAM FARR (D - CA) and Don Young (R – AK)
House Oceans Caucus