Earlier this month, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski reintroduced the Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act. The legislation, co-sponsored by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), focuses on coordination and collaboration between federal, state, local and tribal entities on ocean acidification research and monitoring. A companion bill introduced by Rep. Chellie Pingree, (D-Maine) passed the House in May.
As explained by Senator Murkowski’s office: The legislation directs NOAA to collaborate with and support state, local, and tribal entities that are conducting or have completed ocean acidification vulnerability assessments or research planning to build upon the existing activities. The bill strengthens partnerships between NOAA and a wide range of stakeholders involved in ocean acidification research, such as indigenous groups, coastal communities, state and local resource managers, fishery management councils and commissions, and the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS).
Fortunately NOAA’s Ocean Acidification program has already been prioritizing these partnerships which are actively in place and growing. The purpose of the legislation is to clarify the language and codify it into law. Partnerships and monitoring serve as a critical part of the response to ocean acidification along with broader action to drive down carbon emissions, the root cause of ocean acidification and climate change.
During Capital Hill Ocean Week (CHOW) in June, Senator Murkowski underlined the need to address ocean acidification in Alaska in the following statement:
“Ocean acidification continues to increase as the climate changes, causing harm to ocean resources that many of our coastal communities, Alaska Native cultures, and economy relies on. If we don’t have policies in place to address and coordinate on ocean acidification, we are at risk of far-reaching impacts on shellfish, fish populations, and ocean ecosystems. The time to act is now so we can protect Alaskan subsistence communities and America’s seafood economy. I’m proud to reintroduce my Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act during Capitol Hill Oceans Week, sending a strong message to advocates in D.C. and across the country that we are committed to understanding the impacts and extent of climate change-caused ocean acidification, and what more we can do to ensure healthy oceans for future generations.”