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Tonight: Ocean acidification forum set in Port Angeles

 

Ocean acidification, its effects and local solutions will be highlighted at a community forum featuring speakers from the Washington State Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification. 

North Olympic Peninsula residents and others are invited to attend the community forum from 6-8 p.m. tonight, April 15, at the Port Angeles Senior Center, 328 East 7th Street, Port Angeles. 

Clallam County Commissioner Mike Doherty will welcome the panel and attendees.

Between 2007 and 2009, up to 80 percent of the oyster larvae in some Washington state hatcheries were killed by ocean acidification. As the nation’s leading supplier of farmed shellfish, and with 42,000 jobs dependent on seafood, Washington has much to lose from the effects of an acidifying ocean.

Ocean Acidification, also known as OA, results primarily from CO2 emissions being absorbed from the atmosphere into seawater. The new mixture forms carbonic acid, which alters ocean chemistry, reduces the chemical building blocks needed by many marine species and endangers sea life.

The community forum, hosted by the Clallam County Marine Resources Committee, will feature three speakers. Eric Swenson, Communications and Outreach Director for the Global Ocean Health Program, will explain “The Science of Ocean Acidification;” Betsy Peabody, founder of the Puget Sound Restoration Fund, will describe “Local Impacts, Local Solutions” and Brad Warren, Director for the Global Ocean Health Program, will summarize the panel’s work and present “Recommendations, Partnerships and Actions.” Peabody and Warren served as members of Washington State Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification. Swenson was an alternate member.

Ed Bowlby, Clallam County Marine Resources Committee, who also coordinates research for the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary said, “We have to build consensus to reduce the global emissions of CO2. When possible, we also need to act locally to mitigate, remediate, or adapt to acidification. We can start by minimizing land-based contributions within the watershed. Stormwater runoff, for instance, can contribute to ocean acidification at the local scale.”

To address the threat of increasingly corrosive marine waters, former Governor Christine Gregoire appointed the 28-member Panel on Ocean Acidification in February 2012. 

Co-chaired by Bill Ruckelshaus, the first administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Jay Manning, former director of the Washington Department of Ecology, the panel presented its findings and 42 recommendations Nov. 27 in Seattle. (Learn more at www.ecy.wa.gov/water/marine/oceanacidification.html.)

In addition to the Clallam County MRC, the event is sponsored by the Northwest Straits Commission, Puget Sound Partnership, Puget Sound Restoration Fund, National Fisheries Conservation Center and Sustainable Fisheries Partnership.
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