New bill looks to halt ocean acidification and save local shellfish
Representatives Derek Kilmer and Jaime Herrera Beutler introduced legislation on Thursday to help fight ocean acidification.
The bill, entitled the Ocean Acidification Innovation Act, would for the first time allow federal agencies to use existing funds to design competitions to increase the ability to manage, research, and monitor ocean acidification and its impacts.
In a release, the representatives say that ocean acidification is a rising threat to coastal communities, including recent reports of pteropods dissolving due to the acidification. These pteropods are a key part of the food chain for salmon, herring, and other fish. Local shellfish are made of the same components as pteropods, raising concern about future implications on the species.
“I’ve heard from shellfish and fishing folks up and down the coast in Pacific County about the trends they are seeing and threats their industries are facing due to ocean acidification,” said Jaime. “We need to understand what is happening and find solutions.”
The commercial and recreational fishing industry in Washington alone supports over 67,000 jobs and contributes over $300 million in revenue. Washington leads the nation in producing farmed clams, oysters, and mussels. Growers in Washington contribute more than $250 million to the economy and support more than 3,200 jobs.
The industry in Pacific County alone contributes over $150 million to the local economy, producing 25% of the nation’s oysters.