Sullivan Chairs Hearing on Marine Debris

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife, held a hearing today entitled “Marine Debris and Wildlife: Impacts, Sources, and Solutions,” exploring the sources of marine debris, its impacts on wildlife populations, and potential solutions to this issue.

“Alaska is home to more coastline than the contiguous United States, and is disproportionately affected by the crisis we are seeing with marine debris,” said Senator Sullivan. “Today the state is still dealing with the impacts of marine debris that made its way across thousands of miles of ocean following the devastating March 2011 earthquake off the coast of Japan and the subsequent tsunami. Along with Gulf of Alaska Keeper, represented in Congress by Mr. Pallister today, Alaskans are conducting important response and research work, including the Sitka Sound Science Center, and the Alaska Pinniped Entanglement Group — a coalition of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island, and NOAA, focused on freeing tangled marine mammals. 

"While the problem of marine debris is apparent, there is clearly work to be done to identify effective strategies to prevent further pollution of the marine environment and mitigate the harm caused to our wildlife, which is why this hearing is so important," Senator Sullivan said.

Witnesses at today’s hearing included Chris Pallister, president and co-founder of Gulf of Alaska Keeper, who shared his experience leading clean-ups in Alaska and testified about the primary international contributors to marine debris.

Also testifying today were Jim Kurth, deputy director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Dr. Jenna Jambeck, associate professor of environmental engineering at the University of Georgia, Nicholas Mallos, director of the Trash Free Seas Program at the Ocean Conservancy, and Jonathan Stone, executive director of “Save the Bay.”

To view the full hearing, go to: http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/hearings?ID=39FD807A-6BBA-4E83-8E9E-5A5DFF81C66B