Sullivan Welcomes NOAA Marine Debris Director to Alaska

ANCHORAGE, AK – U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) this week welcomed Nancy Wallace, director of the NOAA Marine Debris Program, to Alaska. The Senator and Director Wallace joined a roundtable discussion with Peter Murphy, Alaska regional coordinator of the NOAA Marine Debris Program, Chris Pallister, director of Gulf of Alaska Keeper, and Molly McCammon, director of the Alaska Ocean Observing System, on the topic of marine debris and the Senator’s Save Our Seas (SOS) Act, which passed the Senate in early August. 

“I appreciate Director Wallace for taking the time to come to Alaska, a state with a massive coastline that is disproportionately impacted by trash entering the ocean,” said Senator Sullivan. “Director Wallace’s visit sends a strong signal that the federal administration has its attention on Alaska, and is engaged with stakeholders and those on the ground working to keep our shores clean. I also appreciate the efforts of Alaskans, like Chris and Molly, who do such amazing work raising public awareness and helping to clean up Alaska’s coastal ecosystems and prevent further debris from reaching our shores.

“With regard to the bipartisan Save Our Seas Act, working with Congressman Don Young, our next objective is to move this legislation through the House and get it to the President’s desk,” Senator Sullivan concluded.

The Save Our Seas Act will help confront the marine debris crisis by:

  • Allowing the NOAA Administrator to declare severe marine debris events and authorize funds to assist with cleanup and response. The Governor of the affected state may request the NOAA Administrator make this declaration.
  • Reauthorizing NOAA’s Marine Debris Program through FY 2022.  Its mission is to conduct research on the source of marine debris and take action to prevent and clean up marine debris.
  • Encouraging the Executive Branch – led by the U.S. State Department – to engage with the leaders of nations responsible for the majority of marine debris, support research into ocean biodegradable plastics, examine the causes of ocean debris, develop effective prevention and mitigation strategies, and quantify the economic benefits for treaty nations in addressing the crisis.


  • May 2016 – Senator Sullivan chaired a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife on the marine debris crisis.
  • December 2016 – The Senate passed the Marine Debris Act Amendments, introduced by Senators Sullivan and Booker.
  • January 2017 – Senator Sullivan was named chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard.
  • March 2017 – Senators Sullivan, Whitehouse and Booker introduced the Save Our Seas Act, legislation that was cosponsored by 19 of their Senate colleagues.
  • April 2017 – The Save Our Seas Act was advanced from the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
  • July 27 – Senator Sullivan chaired a hearing of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard regarding the global marine debris crisis. Director Wallace testified at this hearing.
  • August 3 –The Save Our Seas Act unanimously passed the Senate.

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