Herrera, Kilmer team up on ocean acidification issue

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two U.S. representatives from Washington state, Derek Kilmer and Jaime Herrera Beutler, have reintroduced bipartisan legislation to help fight ocean acidification. The bill, entitled the Ocean Acidification Innovation Act (H.R. 2882), would allow federal agencies to use existing funds to design prize competitions in order to bolster efforts to manage, research, and monitor ocean acidification and its impacts.

According to a press release, the “budget-neutral” legislation was created in collaboration with the X PRIZE Foundation, a non-profit that creates public competitions, with the goal of getting people and businesses more invested in finding solutions to problems that affect society at large. For example, in 2004, the organization gave an award for efforts to develop personal space flights. The industry has since grown, generating more than $1 billion in investments.

Ocean acidification is a rising threat to coastal communities in Washington state. Scientists have found the shells of pteropods — a key part of the food chain for salmon, herring, and other fish — are dissolving due to acidification. The shells of shellfish are made of the same components as pteropods, raising concern about future implications for oysters and other shellfish species.

“Changes to ocean chemistry are threatening entire livelihoods. We want future generations to grow up in a state still connected to a healthy Pacific Ocean,” said Kilmer. “Our bipartisan bill is based on a simple idea to help our shellfish growers and fisheries: let’s provide a strong incentive for folks to research and develop ways to solve this problem.”

“The shellfish industry in Pacific County that produces 25 percent of our nation’s oysters continues to struggle against the negative effects attributed to ocean acidification,” said Herrera Beutler. “Our common-sense bill uses incentives to better understand and find solutions for this rising threat.”

The commercial and recreational fishing industry in Washington state supports over 67,000 jobs and contributes over $300 million in revenue. Washington state leads the nation in producing farmed clams, oysters, and mussels. Growers in Washington state contribute more than $250 million to the economy and support more than 3,200 jobs, according to the press release. The shellfish industry is the second largest employer in Mason County, which is part of Kilmer’s district. The fishing and processing industry in Pacific County, part of Herrera Beutler’s district, contributes over $150 million to the local economy.

Chinook Observer, 20 June 2017. Article.

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