States Addressing Ocean Acidification
Rising emissions of greenhouse gases have not only impacted our climate but also our oceans, which absorb CO2. Due to increasing concentrations, waters have become more acidic leading to changes in the ocean’s chemistry. Because ocean acidification (OA) affects marine ecosystems and the overall food chain, it is imperative for policymakers to sustain sound action and collaborate on novel OA initiatives.
As the nation prepares for the changes in our oceans, a few states have enacted legislation with task forces and state councils working on ocean acidification:
- SB 1363 (2016): Established the Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Reduction Program under the Ocean Protection Council to assess where conservation or restoration of aquatic vegetation (e.g., eelgrass) can be applied to mitigate OA. The bill also requires the Council to support the best available science for data management and conservation goals.
- AB 2139 (2016): Established the Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Task Force to take specified actions to address OA and hypoxia, while adopting further recommendations for further actions that address such issues.
- SB 1039 (2017): Created the Oregon Coordinating Council on Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia (OAH Council) to provide recommendations and guidance for the State of Oregon on how to respond to this issue. In 2019, the Council published Oregon’s OAH Action Plan, which adds specific steps to achieve the Council’s goals until 2025.
- SB 1554 (2020): Appropriates money to Oregon Ocean Science Fund for ocean program purposes.
- HP 1174 (2014): Established the Coastal and Ocean Acidification Study Commission that monitors and investigates the effects of ocean acidification on commercially important species.
- SB 375 (2016): Instituted the Coastal Marine Natural Resources and Environment Commission (COMNARE) to propose OA mitigation strategies and recommend improvements in water quality monitoring.
- HB 118 (2014): Established a Task Force to evaluate and address the effects of OA and the changing chemistry in the Chesapeake Bay and other Maryland waterways.
- A 10264 (2016): Created the Ocean Acidification Task Force to ensure that the best available science is used to assess and respond to emerging threats on coastal waters and fisheries.
- Oceans Act (2008): Charged the Ocean Advisory Commission (OAC) with developing the ocean management plan by making proper recommendations.
- H 472 (2018): Although not passed, this bill proposes an Ocean Acidification Task Force to study the effects of OA on species that are commercially harvested or grown in Massachusetts.