Commerce Sec.: Debris Aid Increasing 20%

Among the topics raised in a rapid-fire question and answer period were: tsunami marine debris relief; issues surrounding the North Pacific Groundfish Observer Program and an update on the controversial coastal and marine spatial planning program.

In her questioning, Senator Murkowski pressed Secretary Blank on how NOAA planned to respond to incoming tsunami marine debris floating west to the United States. “An estimated 1.5 million tons of debris is floating out there in the ocean,” said Senator Murkowski. “We’ve seen it come up on the shores in Hawaii, out in Oregon, in Alaska, and we know it will still come our way years after the fact.” Secretary Blank indicated the Commerce Department is working to provide increased funding levels to deal with future marine debris in impacted states, bumping up its funding from $5 million to $6 million in FY14.

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