Capps introduces bill to combat ocean acidification

Rep. Lois Capps (CA-24) introduced the Ocean Acidification Research Partnership Act, legislation that will support research on ocean acidification through partnerships between the seafood industry and the academic community.

Ocean acidification occurs when carbon dioxide dissolves in seawater, leading to the water becoming more acidic. This bill seeks to address the need for a greater understanding of the economic, social, and ecological impacts of ocean acidification, which puts our seafood industry and the communities that depend on it at risk.

According to a report published last week in the journal Nature Climate Change, oyster, scallop, and clam industries in 15 states – including California – valued at about $1 billion are at risk due to ocean acidification related to climate change.

“Ocean acidification not only threatens our oceans, but the industries and economies that rely on the ocean for their livelihood,” Capps said. “This bill would support research and partnerships between the seafood industry and the academic community that will lead to a greater understanding of ocean acidification and its impact.”

“This is a really groundbreaking opportunity – to have academic scientists work directly with aquaculture growers and have the access to funding to do this,” said Dr. Gretchen Hofmann, Professor at UCSB. “As we move forward, there are likely challenges to aquaculture that will come from environmental and anthropogenic change. Having this type of funding allows us to get out in front of issues of concern for growers in a way that would not only support their business, but local jobs and food security. Obviously these types of partnerships exist now, but having a direct pipeline to funding to address real world problems in a great step it the direction.”

“Ocean Conservancy applauds Representative Capps’ efforts to ensure that fishermen and coastal communities have the information they need to respond to ocean acidification,” said Julia Roberson, Director of the Ocean Acidification Program for Ocean Conservancy. “Ocean acidification has already caused significant harm to America’s shellfish growers, and scientists are concerned that other valuable fisheries are at risk. Shellfish growers have been able to respond to acidification, thanks to cutting-edge partnerships with scientists. The Ocean Acidification Research Partnership Act of 2015 will enable more industry-scientist collaborations, so that lobster, salmon, and crab fishermen – to name just a few – will have the information they need to respond to this threat.”

“We need to work together to address the challenges presented by ocean acidification,” said sea urchin diver Bruce Steele and Diane Pleschner-Steele, Executive Director of California Wetfish Producers Association. “The real world effects on some shellfish stocks and fisheries are now becoming clear, and are likely to accelerate over the next several decades. How we respond – both as fishermen and scientists – may potentially save some fishing and aquaculture industries. Collaborative research is key, which is why I want to thank Congresswoman Capps for supporting these efforts through this bill.”

Specifically, the bill amends the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring (FOARAM) Act of 2009 to provide funding specifically for cooperative grants to foster collaboration between the seafood industry and academic community.

The legislation would provide resources to assist seafood growers, harvesters, fishermen, and industries within the seafood supply chain to assess the risks of ocean acidification on the seafood industry and help academia better understand ocean acidification more broadly and how we can prepare for its impacts. These research partnerships would strengthen communities by increasing collaboration between the seafood industry and the academic community and deliver research, monitoring, or adaptation results which will benefit both partners.

Lois Capps blog, 4 March 2015. Article.

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