Ocean acidification panel makes progress for sea-related industries

The latest Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification Panel meeting, which took place last Friday at the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, was an all-day event with results that will affect the state’s largest ocean-based industries – notably shellfish.

“I do think that this was significant because it was our final face-to-face meeting, and we had some significant issues to work our way through,” said panel co-chair Jay Manning, a partner at Cascadia Law Group and the former director for the Washington State Department of Ecology. “But, right now, I have a good feeling that we have a strong set of recommendations and that people will be supportive of them.”

The purpose of the panel’s seventh and final meeting before its official report is released was to continue discussions on several topics related to climate threats. Notable on the agenda were strategy sessions about reducing carbon dioxide emissions, as well as nutrient and organic carbon inputs, into Puget Sound-region waters.

Carbon emissions have been of concern to the state’s shellfish industry because they prevents clams, mussels, geoducks and other species from properly forming their shells. In Washington, shellfish is a $270 million industry that employs about 3,200 workers.

“One of the most valuable things that came out of this was that there was an agreement on what to recommend regarding atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions, which is an issue we had gone back and forth with and was thus hard to find common ground,” Manning said. “But we did that on Friday and I think that many people will see the value in our recommendations.”

The previous meeting of the panel was Aug. 8, when members of the state Enivironmental Protection Agency, Weyerhauser, Department of Natural Resources, Ocean Conservancy, Makah Tribal Council and others gathered to brainstorm about the “Top 18” recommended actions for the same objectives. More than 40 members of the public also participated in those discussions.

The panel’s final report is scheduled for release Nov. 27.

Business Examiner, 15 october 2012. Article.

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