Jaime Herrera Beutler’s bipartisan bill to fight ocean acidification approved by committee, ready for full house vote

U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler’s bipartisan bill to help fight ocean acidification and support a healthy shellfish and fishing industry passed out of the U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee today.

As a new member of the Science Committee, Herrera Beutler prioritized advancing this bill she coauthored with Rep. Derek Kilmer, titled the Ocean Acidification Innovation Act. Their bipartisan legislation would allow federal agencies to use existing funds to conduct prize competitions to increase the ability to research, monitor, and manage ocean acidification and its impacts.

“Ocean acidification is a rising threat to shellfish and fishing industry jobs in Pacific County, as well as the health of our ocean’s ecosystem. Advancing my bipartisan bill through the Science Committee today was an important step toward better tracking ocean acidification and mitigating the negative impacts,” Herrera Beutler said. “I’m hopeful it will be brought forward for full U.S. House approval, and one step closer to protecting the jobs and families depending on a healthy shellfish industry.”

Herrera Beutler spoke in support of her bill at committee today. The next stop will be a vote by the U.S. House.

Threat of ocean acidification in Washington state:

Ocean acidification is a rising threat to coastal communities throughout the Pacific Northwest and growing evidence suggests that acidic ocean conditions harm the ability of many marine organisms to generate shells. These marine organisms, which include oysters, mussels, and pteropods, are a key part of the food chain for salmon, herring, and other fish. In addition, scientists at the University of Washington recently discovered that ocean acidification also threatens the $220 million Dungeness crab fishery, raising serious concerns about future implications for species and ecosystems in the region.

In Washington state alone, the commercial fishing and seafood processing industries, which includes shellfish aquaculture, contribute 15,900 direct jobs and $9.4 billion in revenue to the economy. According to a report by the Washington Sea Grant in 2015, Washington state is the nation’s leading producer of farmed clams, oysters, and mussels, and Southwest Washington alone produces 25% of the nation’s oysters. The Washington Shellfish Initiative estimated that state shellfish growers directly and indirectly employ more than 2,700 people and provide an estimated total economic contribution of $184 million.

The legislation was created in collaboration with key stakeholders, including the XPRIZE Foundation, an innovative non-profit organization that creates public competitions designed to encourage increased investment in solutions to major societal problems. For example, the Ansari XPRIZE awarded for personal spaceflight technology helped launch a brand-new $2 billion private space industry.

Federal agencies have increasingly viewed prize competitions as a means of maximizing the return on taxpayer dollars, leveraging prizes to attract more resources to tackle difficult scientific challenges.

Herrera Beutler, 1 May 2019. Article.

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