MRC update: marine work hours, ocean acidification…

San Juan County’s Marine Resources Committee meets on the first and third Wednesday of each month beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the community room in Islanders Bank Administration Building in Friday Harbor. December 5 topics included asking the state to extend the months in-water work is not allowed; ocean acidification and a pilot mussels program. Here are the minutes of that meeting.

Staff report: Lyshall said she brings greetings from Islands Trust. She briefly discussed the recently-released ocean acidification online report from the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel She noted that the cause of the drop in pH of the ocean is primarily due to the uptake by the ocean of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere (22 million tons every day), as well as contamination by nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxide gases, nutrients, and organic carbon.

The ocean is 30% more acidic since the 1700’s and is expected to increase up to 150% by the end of this century. Our changing ocean is already impacting calcifier marine species, like mussels, as well as copepods at the bottom of the food chain; we are all at risk, Lyshall said. Strong action is called for to slow the pace of ocean acidification (OA), including source reduction, adaptation and remediation.

The report’s “Key Early Actions” are:

  • reduce emissions of carbon dioxide;
  • reduce local land-based contributions to OA
  • increase our ability to adapt o and remediate the impacts of OA;
  • invest in Washington’s ability to monitor and study effects of OA;
  • inform, educate, and engage stakeholders, the public, and decision makers in addressing OA;
  • maintain a sustainable and coordinated focus on OA.

Lyshall said there will be extensive presentations on the topic at the next Marine Managers Workshop.

Jim said the problem is here and now and is already changing lifestyles. He has regularly harvested oysters here but reports that, as of two years ago, they are all gone from Stuart Island and other areas here.

Marrett said that it was pointed out a recent Port Commission meeting in Seattle that oysters now take 24 months to grow and the billion dollar shellfish industry is in serious jeopardy.

There was discussion about acting locally and thinking globally. All communities are asking, “What difference can we make?”

Lyshall responded that Washington state can lead the call for funding and for mitigation and the MRCs can help spread the message.

San Juan Islander, 26 December 2012. Article.

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