National Ocean Exploration Act reintroduced in Senate

Published 9:00 am Friday, February 26, 2021

The National Ocean Exploration Act was reintroduced to the U.S. Senate Tuesday by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), along with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), ranking member and chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

The NOEA would authorize the National Ocean Mapping, Exploration ad Characterization Council; update national priorities for ocean mapping, exploration and characterization; ad direct the council to coordinate and facilitate activities across federal and non-federal entities to advance those priorities.

“We need to improve the way we map, explore and characterize the deep seas,” Wicker said. “This bill would serve as a catalyst for new underwater discoveries. It would make important information available through multi-sector partnerships and ensure the ocean remains a valuable source of American prosperity.”

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“This bill will elevate ocean science at NOAA and across federal agencies, it will renew a focus on mapping and ocean research, and it will allow for innovative partnerships and cooperative agreements to expand our ocean exploration efforts,” Cantwell said. “NOAA’s Ocean Exploration Program supports Pacific Northwest research from mapping the Arctic to facilitate shipping, tourism and commerce, to exploring the biological and cultural importance of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.”

The NOEA would:

  • Authorize and improve the National Ocean Mapping, Exploration and Characterization Council.
  • Reauthorize the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s existing Ocean Exploration, Ocean and Coastal Mapping, and Hydrographic Services programs from fiscal years 2021 to 2030.
  • Establish a system to enhance the public accessibility of ocean-related National Environmental Policy Act documents and the geo-referenced data included in them.