State lawmakers want to find out what acidifying waters mean for the ocean state (audio)

State legislators have introduced a resolution that would create a special commission to study the effects of ocean acidification on Rhode Island.

The world’s oceans are becoming increasingly acidic from all the carbon dioxide we’re dumping into them. Important habitats and fisheries, like shellfish, are rapidly degrading in many parts of the world due to ocean’s changing chemistry.

Democratic state representative John Edwards is co-sponsoring the resolution. He said now is the time to examine how this process is affecting marine life in Narragansett Bay and the state’s fishing industry.

“Rhode Island has a vibrant fishing economy and we want to make sure we keep that intact and we make sure the fishing industry is well represented on this commission as well,” said Edwards.

Edwards said the commission he’d like to see in Rhode Island is modeled after similar ones created in other states, such as Washington in the Pacific Northwest.

University of Rhode Island oceanography professor Susanne Menden-Deuer creating a commission to study the available science and identify management strategies for Narragansett Bay is a great idea, but “it wouldn’t suffice to isolate the effect of ocean acidification but rather look at the multiple stressors that estuaries are subject to,” she said.

Menden-Deuer said it’s tricky to detect ocean acidification in estuaries like Narragansett Bay, because the effects of excess runoff often appear as ocean acidification.

Ambar Espinoza, Rhode Island Public Radio, 17 February 2015. Text and audio.

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