State Department of Environmental Conservation releases final Ocean Action Plan for New York (excerpts)

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the release of the State’s final Ocean Action Plan.

Albany, NY – January 23, 2017 – New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the release of the State’s final Ocean Action Plan, the first-ever comprehensive 10-year blueprint to guide the protection and conservation of New York’s ocean resources from environmental threats such as ocean acidification due to climate change. The plan was developed with input from a variety of state agencies, as well as ocean-related advocacy and industry organizations. (…)

The Ocean Action Plan identifies 61 actions that address plan goals with actionable steps that need to be undertaken over the next decade using state funds, as well as leveraging related federal, conservation organization, and academic resources. (…)

The Ocean Action Plan also identifies the need for further evaluation of ocean acidification in state waters, including developing a cooperative marine research program to improve New York’s understanding of the factors, such as ocean acidification, potentially affecting recruitment success and long-term sustainability of fisheries. In December, New York joined the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification, a network of governments and organizations responding to threats from ocean acidification. In November, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation to establish the New York State Ocean Acidification Task Force to employ the best available science to develop an early assessment of impacts, identify adaptive measures, and strengthen the state’s regulatory response to this emerging threat.

DEC Commissioner Seggos, or a designee, will lead the 14-member Ocean Acidification Task Force, which will help implement and guide efforts to undertake the Ocean Action Plan’s ocean acidification-related actions. The task force must issue a report to the Governor and the Legislature by December 31, 2018, providing an assessment of the anticipated impacts of ocean acidification, including:

  • a literature and data review of its effects on commercially harvested species;
  • adaptive measures, including identifying and monitoring early effects of ocean acidification on marine life, animals, plants, and natural communities;
  • integrating mitigation and adaptation strategies into state environmental plans;
  • state and local regulatory and/or statutory alterations to respond to the impacts of ocean acidification; and
  • increasing public awareness of ocean acidification.

Ocean acidification is generally caused by increased absorption of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere; as atmospheric CO2 has increased, the concentration of CO2 in the oceans has also increased. As a result, seawater has become 30 percent more acidic, a trend that will continue. Ocean acidification is expected to cause large-scale changes in ocean ecosystems, as certain species will have advantages over others that are less capable of adapting to rapid changes in marine conditions, and will result in changes in biodiversity. In particular, many shellfish-including hard clams, bay scallops, and oysters-will be negatively impacted, resulting in economic uncertainties for the aquaculture industry and important commercial and recreational fisheries. The Governor signed legislation to establish the New York State Ocean Acidification Task Force on November 28.

DEC and the Department of State are currently working collaboratively with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body on ocean acidification, which has been identified as a concern in the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Action Plan. New York’s participation in the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification will further scientific understanding of ocean acidification and help identify solutions to address its impacts on coastal communities, among other actions. The International Alliance includes the states of California, Oregon and Washington, as well as the Province of British Columbia.

New York’s marine waters are home to the third-largest port in the country, and support more than 275,000 jobs in the Port of New York and New Jersey alone. Commercial fishing also plays a critical role in the regional economy generating over $1.8 billion annually and supporting 42,000 jobs for New Yorkers. The recreational fishing sector also contributes nearly $212 million a year to the economy and supports over 3,000 jobs. Tourism, one of Long Island’s largest industries, produces about $4.7 billion annually, and relies heavily on the health of New York’s ocean, bays, and estuaries. (…)

Long Island News & PR, via long island.com,  24 January 2017. Article.

 

 

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