President Donald Trump added his signature to the “Save Our Seas Act” on Thursday, green-lighting an initiative to clean up eight million tons of debris from the planet’s oceans.
“As president I will continue to do everything I can to stop other nations from making our oceans into their landfills. That’s why I’m pleased – very pleased, I must say – to put my signature on this important legislation,” Trump said as he signed the Save Our Seas Act into law at the Oval Office.
Sponsored by Alaska Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan, the bill aims to promote better domestic and international efforts at cleaning up garbage that is littered throughout the oceans. The new law will extend the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program for another five years, and promote cohesion among different federal agencies on how to reduce marine debris.
The bill has received widespread bi-partisan support among lawmakers, with it passing both the House and Senate unanimously.
“Every year, over 8 million tons of garbage is dumped into our beautiful oceans by many countries of the world. That includes China, that includes Japan, that includes many, many countries,” the president explained. “This waste, trash and debris harms not only marine life, but also fisherman, coastal economies along America’s vast stretches. The bad news is it floats toward us.”
The issue of marine debris has become an increasing problem on the international stage. National Geographic reported in 2015 that 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic is in the world’s waters, with 269,000 tons of it floating on the surface and around four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer sitting deeper in the ocean.
Trump stated that previous administrations “did absolutely nothing” to address the problem of foreign governments dumping their waste into the ocean and it landing on American shores — leaving it up to the U.S. to clean up and pay. The president went on to say that the White House has notified other governments “very strongly” of the changes to come.