Congress Introduces Bill To Assess Economic Impact Of Ocean Acidification
Washington D.C. May 23rd, 2019. A bill has been introduced to congress called the Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act, which if enacted would commission the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to conduct surveys along American coastlines and island territories to determine the impact of ocean acidification on the communities that live there.
A report of these examinations would be made available every 7 years and would include assessments of the possible damage done to local and regional economies, commercial and regional fishing, and recreational opportunities.
The bill was introduced by Chellie Pingree (D. ME) and co-sponsored by 2020 Democratic Candidate for President, Tulsi Gabbard, herself a congresswoman from Hawaii, one of the states at greatest risk of ocean acidification.
Quite rightly, the report would “be conducted in collaboration with experts, indigenous knowledge groups, and stakeholders who are familiar with the unique economic, social, ecological, geographic, and resource concerns of coastal communities in the United States”.
The NOAA states on their website that over the course of the last 200 years, up to 30% of all the extra CO2 that humans have been producing is absorbed by the ocean.
The damaging nature of acidification is that the added CO2 creates a chemical reaction in seawater making carbonate ions less prevalent.
“Carbonate ions are an important building block of structures such as sea shells and coral skeletons. Decreases in carbonate ions can make building and maintaining shells and other calcium carbonate structures difficult for calcifying organisms such as oysters, clams, sea urchins, shallow water corals, deep sea corals, and calcareous plankton”, the website states.
Anyone with knowledge of food webs will understand that the reduction in small animals such as these disrupts stability of the marine animals which require them to live. Living by acidified ocean waters, communities that rely on fish for food and income sit on the end of those webs of life, and so protecting the ocean is one of the most dire and important matters set forth by climate change.