Murkowski, Whitehouse, Senate Colleagues Reintroduce Bill During CHOW to Address Ocean Acidification

Washington, DC – During Capitol Hill Oceans Week (CHOW), U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), co-chairs of the U.S. Senate Oceans Caucus, reintroduced the Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act, legislation that will ensure coordination and collaboration between federal, state, local and tribal entities on ocean acidification research and monitoring.

“Ocean acidification continues to increase as the climate changes, causing harm to ocean resources that many of our coastal communities, Alaska Native cultures, and economy relies on. If we don’t have policies in place to address and coordinate on ocean acidification, we are at risk of far-reaching impacts on shellfish, fish populations, and ocean ecosystems. The time to act is now so we can protect Alaskan subsistence communities and America’s seafood economy.” said Senator Murkowski. “I’m proud to reintroduce my Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act during Capitol Hill Oceans Week, sending a strong message to advocates in D.C. and across the country that we are committed to understanding the impacts and extent of climate change-caused ocean acidification, and what more we can do to ensure healthy oceans for future generations.”

“Ocean acidification caused by carbon pollution is a major threat to Rhode Island’s aquaculture industry and to the overall health of our oceans,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “Our bipartisan legislation will build on local efforts to combat acidification across the country and ensure coastal industries can continue grow.”

This legislation would direct NOAA to collaborate with and support state, local, and tribal entities that are conducting or have completed ocean acidification vulnerability assessments or research planning to build upon the existing activities. The bill strengthens partnerships between NOAA and a wide range of stakeholders involved in ocean acidification research, such as indigenous groups, coastal communities, state and local resource managers, fishery management councils and commissions, and the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS).

Senators Dan Sullivan, (R-AK), Susan Collins (R-ME), Gary Peters (D-MI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Angus King (I-ME) are all original co-sponsors.

“As America’s leading seafood producer and home to more coastline than the Lower 48 states combined, Alaska is particularly vulnerable to changes in ocean conditions,” said Senator Sullivan. “Changing ocean conditions can threaten our fish species and coastal ecosystems, and, by extension, the very livelihood of our commercial fisheries and coastal communities. It’s imperative that we have the best, most up-to-date data in order to develop effective responses to the challenge of ocean acidification. It’s also vital that NOAA collaborate with stakeholders, including local communities, Alaska Natives and local and state governments when crafting solutions, which is what this bill mandates. I thank Senator Murkowski for introducing this important piece of legislation.”

“The Great Lakes are not only critical to our economy but in providing drinking water to millions,” said Senator Peters. "This bipartisan bill would help improve our awareness and understanding of acidification in the Great Lakes to ensure we protect their vital ecosystems and waterways along with the communities that surround them.”

“Massachusetts' coastal communities depend on healthy oceans for their livelihoods and their way of life – and ocean acidification puts both at risk,” said Senator Warren. “This bill will develop the tools we need to assess and respond to ocean acidification, so we can protect and preserve our oceans for generations to come.”

“Connecticut’s beautiful shoreline depends on the health of our oceans. Ocean acidification presents a grave threat to the people, communities, and industries that line our shore. This bill will help communities strengthen and improve measures to keep our oceans healthy – protecting this treasured natural resource for future generations to come,” said Senator Blumenthal.