Washington state, the leading US producer of farmed shellfish, today launched a 42-step plan to reduce ocean acidification. The initiative — detailed in a report by a governor-appointed panel of scientists, policy-makers and shellfish industry representatives — marks the first US state-funded effort to tackle ocean acidification, a growing problem for both the region and the globe.
The state governor Christine Gregoire, says she will allocate $3.3 million to back the panel's priority recommendations.
“Washington is clearly in the lead with respect to ocean acidification,” says Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
To combat ocean acidification in Washington, the state needs to better track the changing chemistry of Puget Sound, reduce stormwater runoff and nutrient pollution that worsen the problem, and counteract souring waters by sprinkling shells in estuaries or growing more carbon-gobbling vegetation.
But above all, the state must advocate for regional, national and international policies to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions, according to authors of a first-of-its-kind report released Tuesday about the changing chemistry of Washington's marine waters.
The buildup of acid levels in oceans, a consequence of human-caused climate change, threatens to eat away at an important corner of Washington’s economy, according to the report of a state blue-ribbon panel on ocean acidification released on Tuesday.
“Our state should care about this because contact with corrosive water directly effects our shellfish industry . . . We simply cannot sit idly by when this happens,” said William Ruckelshaus, former U.S. Environmental Protection Administrator and co-chair of the panel.
Shellfish aquaculture is a $270 million business and directly and indirectly employs 3,000 people in the Evergreen State. Annual sales of farmed shellfish from Washington make up 85 percent of U.S. West Coast sales (including Alaska).
In the first state-level action of its kind, the governor of Washington today announced that her state will try to protect valuable shellfish industries and marine life from ocean acidification. Responding to a report that she requested, Governor Chris Gregoire said she has directed state agencies to take steps to reduce the pollutants that contribute to acidification. She also plans to ask the state legislature to establish a new acidification research center at the University of Washington (UW), Seattle.
SEATTLE -- Rising acidity levels in the oceans pose a serious threat to shellfish and other marine life, and tackling that problem in Washington state will require reducing carbon dioxide emissions, keeping polluted runoff out of marine waters, and increasing monitoring at hatcheries, a group of experts recommended Tuesday.