Taking action against ocean acidification: a review of management and policy options

Ocean acidification has emerged over the last two decades as one of the largest threats to marine organisms and ecosystems. However, most research efforts on ocean acidification have so far neglected management and related policy issues to focus instead on understanding its ecological and biogeochemical implications. This shortfall is addressed here with a systematic, international and critical review of management and policy options. In particular, we investigate the assumption that fighting acidification is mainly, but not only, about reducing CO2 emissions, and explore the leeway that this emerging problem may open in old environmental issues. We review nine types of management responses, initially grouped under four categories: preventing ocean acidification; strengthening ecosystem resilience; adapting human activities; and repairing damages. Connecting and comparing options leads to classifying them, in a qualitative way, according to their potential and feasibility. While reducing CO2 emissions is confirmed as the key action that must be taken against acidification, some of the other options appear to have the potential to buy time, e.g. by relieving the pressure of other stressors, and help marine life face unavoidable acidification. Although the existing legal basis to take action shows few gaps, policy challenges are significant: tackling them will mean succeeding in various areas of environmental management where we failed to a large extent so far.

Billé R., Kelly R., Biastoch A., Harrould-Kolieb E., Herr D., Joos F., Kroeker K., Laffoley D., Oschlies A. & Gattuso J.-P., in press. Taking action against ocean acidification: a review of management and policy options. Environmental Management. Article (subscription required).


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