Pingree introduces bill to study impact of ocean acidification on coastal communities

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree has introduced a bill that would require federal officials to study the effects of ocean acidification on coastal communities in Maine and around the country. The Maine Legislature passed the first East Coast Ocean Acidification bill to conduct a study specific to Maine this session.

“Ocean acidification could be a real threat to the fisheries that are the lifeblood of coastal communities. The truth is we don’t fully understand how it would impact a vital industry like the lobster fishery and what the effect would be on Maine,” said Pingree. “We know what’s causing ocean acidification but now we need to better understand how hard it is going to hit coastal economies.”

Ocean Acidification (OA) is a product of increased carbon dioxide (C02) in the atmosphere. Much of the C02 released into the atmosphere as greenhouse gas pollution gets absorbed by oceans, where it makes the water more acidic. This makes it harder for clams, mussels and oysters to fully form their shells. The impacts on lobsters is less clear, but there is serious concern that acidification coupled with warming waters could have a significant impact on lobster populations.

Pingree’s bill would require the NationalOceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to study the socioeconomic impacts of ocean acidification on coastal communities. Under her legislation, the Secretary of Commerce would be required to conduct studies to identify which communities are most dependent on ocean resources and how acidification would affect them if valuable industries like the lobster fishery were impacted.

“The first step toward meeting this threat is having good information and, frankly, that is lacking when it comes to the seriousness of the acidification threat. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about rising sea levels and the other impacts of climate change, but we need to make sure our eyes are open to the effects of acidification,” said Pingree.

Pingree’s bill, the Coastal Communities Acidification Act of 2014 (HR 4692) was introduced yesterday and will be referred to the Science, Space and Technology Committee.

Ramona du Houx, Maine Insights, 21 May 2014. Article.

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