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Washington State Declares War on Ocean Acidification

Washington State Declares War on Ocean Acidification

As one of the largest producers of U.S.-farmed shellfish, Washington state has a lot to lose if ocean acidification continues. Rather than denying the reality of climate change like some other states, Washington has decided to take action to protect its natural resources.

The state recently launched a $3.3-million, science-based plan to slow ocean acidification on its own shores, and around the world. The strategy – detailed in a report by a governor-appointed panel of scientists, policy-makers and shellfish industry representatives — marks the first US state-funded effort to tackle ocean acidification, a growing problem for both the region and the globe, reports Nature Magazine.

According to the Washington Department of Ecology, shellfish growers in Washington and Oregon became the first to discover that ocean acidification was undercutting their jobs and businesses around 2007, when corrosive seawater began killing off tiny young oysters by the billions in Pacific Northwest hatcheries. For Governor Christine Gregoire and many in the state’s government, to surrender this profitable industry to the consequences of human-accelerated climate change is unthinkable.

The detailed report titled “Sweetening The Waters” [PDF], outlines 42 different strategies Washington can undertake to adapt to, remediate, and mitigate the effects of ocean acidification on the state’s coastline. Possible actions include relatively well-established approaches such as buffering sediments in shellfish beds with recycled shell hash and cultivating seagrass to protect nearby larvae by absorbing CO2; as well as less-recognized tactics like breeding OA-resistent strains of vulnerable marine species.

In late November, Gov. Gregoire signed an executive order underscoring the importance of these recommendations from her Blue Ribbon Panel on ocean acidification. “A healthy ocean is critical to our health and our coastal economies,” said Gregoire. “We have learned that human caused emissions of carbon dioxide are dramatically altering the ocean’s chemistry at an alarming rate. These emissions, mostly resulting from burning fossil fuels, are now threatening our ocean ecosystems. Ocean acidification is yet another reason to quickly and significantly reduce emissions of carbon dioxide across the planet.”

Related Reading:

We Need A National Plant To Curb Ocean Acidification

Ocean Acidification Causes Baby Coral To Make Bad Decisions

10 Species On The Brink Of Extinction Due To Ocean Acidification

Read more: , , , , , ,

Top Image: Algae blooms in central Puget Sound. Credit: Washington Dept. of Ecology

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73 comments

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3:56PM PST on Jan 10, 2013

Thank you Beth, for Sharing this!

11:11AM PST on Jan 7, 2013

Good that we have a report with strategies that can be implemented. Now, let's see if anything really happens or if it's just another report, doomed to lie around gathering dust.

8:28AM PST on Dec 19, 2012

thanks for sharing :)

5:15AM PST on Dec 14, 2012

Yay Washington. Now if the other coastal states would follow, as well as Washington DC there might actually be something accomplished. I'm pretty sure humanity won't survive a sick and dying ocean. It's not just about oysters and jobs.

8:01PM PST on Dec 13, 2012

The State of Washington is a great producer of oysters, and oysters are very sensitive to ocean acidification. In the oceans, they are the canaries in the coal mine. Japan's pearl oyster industry is probably being affected as well.

6:51AM PST on Dec 13, 2012

That photograph speaks a thousand words or more.

7:03AM PST on Dec 12, 2012

thanks for the article

1:06PM PST on Dec 11, 2012

AT THE END OF THE DAY IS A HUMAN ACTIVITY INCRISSING DRAMTICALLY IN POPULATION ,ACTIVITY ,FOSIL FUEL ETC.............HUMANS .......HUMANS....

9:10AM PST on Dec 11, 2012

Great stuff, thanks!

7:29AM PST on Dec 11, 2012

I depend more and more on you all to give me te REAL news. Thanks.

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