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Federal Plan on Ocean Acidification Is Important First Step to Save Sea Life
SAN FRANCISCO - July 11 - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration today announced the first steps of a national strategy to protect sea life from ocean acidification. The draft plan is intended to guide federal research and monitoring on ocean acidification, and ultimately lead to the development of adaptation and mitigation strategies.
“This plan is a good first step toward addressing the tragedy unfolding in our oceans,” said Emily Jeffers, a staff attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity’s oceans program, which recently called on President Barack Obama to develop a national action plan for ocean acidification. “But if we’re going to save sea life from ocean acidification, we need to move quickly on big, bold steps that dramatically reduce carbon pollution.”
Every day, the world’s oceans absorb 22 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution from cars, factories and power plants. The oceans have become about 30 percent more acidic since the Industrial Revolution as a result of a chemical change in seawater that happens when ocean waters absorb CO2 pollution. This rate of change in ocean chemistry has no precedent in geologic time; the last time seawater was so acidic, about 55 million years ago, there were massive species extinctions.
Ocean acidification makes it hard for animals like corals and oysters to grow and survive. It also erodes the shells of tiny plankton that form the basis of the marine food web, which will likely result in large-scale problems up the food chain for sea stars, salmon, sea otters, whales and ultimately people, many of whom rely on seafood to survive.
“We need to take immediate action to address ocean acidification or the impacts will be catastrophic,” said Jeffers. “We need a bold national action plan to ensure a future for our sea life.”
In 2009 the Center for Biological Diversity sued the EPA for failing to address the impacts of ocean acidification in the state of Washington. As a result of a settlement, EPA acknowledged that ocean acidification is a water pollution problem that can and should be addressed by the Clean Water Act. In April of this year, the Center launched a campaign calling on President Obama and the EPA to develop a national plan to protect the oceans from acidification.