Executive summary of OATF recommendations

In September 2010, the National Research Council published the report, “Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean” which reviews the current state of scientific knowledge on ocean acidification, and identifies gaps in that knowledge, particularly with respect to information useful to policy makers and federal agencies. The OATF offers the following as additional details or emphasis to the NRC recommendations.

1. Interagency Coordination

It is critical that the federal agencies participating in the Interagency Working Group on Ocean Acidification (IWGOA) consider the many ways to implement strong interagency coordination of activities and funding in building plans for addressing ocean acidification.

2. Interagency National Program Office
We support the vision of the National Research Council that calls for establishing an Interagency National Ocean Acidification Program Office. This office would not only help maximize communication between agencies and participating scientists but also help avoid duplication.

3. Foundations, NGOs and Industry

There is considerable potential value in having several major foundations and NGOs collaborate in supporting research into ocean acidification. We strongly encourage the participating federal agencies to develop linkages with these groups. We also believe there are many opportunities for scientists to advise the marine industrial community and that the IWGOA should encourage productive interactions such as those evolving between marine scientists on the west coast and the Pacific Shellfish Growers Association.

4. International Collaboration
The robust research programs involving ocean acidification that are underway internationally offer many opportunities for important collaborations with scientific colleagues in the United States. It is important that the involved federal agencies develop plans that facilitate the participation of US scientists so we capitalize on the substantive investments that are being made abroad.

5. Communication

Communication between scientists and education of the public at large is a challenge confronting our society. Indeed, there is growing evidence that the interest in, and appreciation for, science in the United States is extremely low. If we expect our federal legislators to provide substantive long-term support, the IWGOA will need to consider how they can effectively improve communication about Ocean Acidification research and its relevance to society.

6. Science Needs

For many decades ocean science has been impeded by the lack of dependable in situ sensing systems. Sensor development has been perennially underfunded and substantial investments on the order of tens of millions a year are needed to develop and then sustainably deploy dependable new sensing systems for physical, chemical and biological variables and this should be integral to the decade-long effort the IWGOA is developing. In addition to National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP) funding, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA) should be approached to partner in the sensor development effort. An important goal of the observational, experimental and modeling studies being formulated by the IWGOA should include entire food webs and the biogeochemical cycles that support them.

7. Management Actions and Multiple Stressors
A host of important management decisions will be made in response to the scientific insights developed during the decade-long investigations involving Ocean Acidification. The Task Force recognizes the particular challenges presented by the action of multiple stressors in the marine environment but contends they should be made an integral part of management strategies.

8. Socioeconomic Recommendations

Social sciences need to be incorporated into the assessment of the impacts of ocean acidification on lives and livelihoods. This could build on existing models – NOAA Climate and Societal Interactions program (CSI) and The US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) and should include econometric approaches. Risk assessments of ocean acidification, that incorporate low-probability, high-impact events as well as high-probability, low-to-mid impacts need to be considered. Given the global nature of OA, socio-economic impacts must be considered with regard to global security.

9. National Ocean Acidification Data Management Plan

There needs to be effective interagency coordination and data sharing. Information about OA and relevant data are scattered; there needs to be a permanent, national, interagency cyberinfrastructure system that ties together or stores in a few places all relevant data archives relevant to ocean acidification. The IWGOA should also identify opportunities to integrate OA data into the eventual IOOS (Integrated Ocean Observing System) data management scheme.

10. Federal, Regional, State and Local Interactions

Local, regional, and state governments can combat the causes of acidification in parallel with the federal government. Environmental laws currently in effect provide a network of pathways for intergovernmental cooperation and coordination. Below we list some of the environmental laws relevant for mitigating ocean acidification, and the governmental interactions that these laws trigger.

Ocean Acidification Task Force: summary of work completed and recommendations for ORRAP to convey to the IWGOA, Report.


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