Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Ocean Acidification Legislation Introduced

Legislation introduced in the US Senate would identify and assess communities most dependent on coastal and ocean resources that may be impacted by ocean acidification. The bipartisan Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act of 2017 was introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, with Senators Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Susan Collins, R-ME, Gary Peters, D-MI; and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI.

“This is significant legislation for those living in a state or community whose livelihood greatly depends on the health of our oceans,” Murkowski said.

The act called for conducting coastal community vulnerability assessments related to ocean acidification. It would strengthen collaborations with a wide range of stakeholders, including regional Ocean Acidification Networks and Sea Grants, into the planning and implementation of coastal community vulnerability assessments. The act would require that the assessment identify communities most dependent on ocean and coastal resources, the nature of the social and economic vulnerabilities of the communities, and identify the harmful impacts of ocean acidification on those communities.

According to Sarah Cooley, director of the Ocean Acidification Program at Ocean Conservancy, the assessment will be a step further in understanding the nature of unique risks faced by coastal communities because of ocean acidification, by identifying where further research could be devoted and whether adaptation strategies can be put into place to help those communities.

Colley said the science is clear that the ocean is becoming acidified. “This is a major threat to a variety of ocean resources that coastal communities depend on, and we must rise to the challenge and tackle this problem head on,” she said.

The companion bill in the House, HR 2719, sponsored by Rep. Chaellie Pingree, D-ME, was introduced in May, but has seen little committee activity.

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