Washington joins new international alliance calling for protection of the ocean

December 13, 2016

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OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee joined other West Coast governors and leaders from around the world in a call for action to protect the ocean from further acidification damage. Washington state is now a founding member of the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification, which was formally launched today in San Diego, California.

“The base of the ocean food web is being damaged by carbon pollution. The health of the ocean is at risk, as is the food security of the planet,” Inslee said. “We must act immediately to cut carbon emissions. Last year, 195 countries signed the historic Climate Agreement in Paris, committing to reduce their pollution. It is time for those who care about the ocean to call on the world to make good on the Paris accord to prevent further damage.”

Scientists have determined that the ocean is 30 percent more acidic now than it was in pre-industrial times as a result of carbon pollution. It has also absorbed more than 90 percent of the extra heat caused by this pollution. As a result, significant changes are occurring, resulting in damage to oysters and crabs, to coral reefs and to the food source of salmon.

In responding to this threat, the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification has issued a call to action, committing alliance members to promote five goals:

  • Advance the scientific understanding of ocean acidification
  • Take meaningful actions to reduce causes of acidification
  • Protect the environment and coastal communities from impacts of a changing ocean
  • Expand public awareness and understanding of ocean acidification
  • Build sustained support for addressing this global problem

Alliance members have also agreed to take meaningful local actions by crafting their own local or regional ocean acidification action plans to advance alliance goals.

Washington state is a leader in understanding the impacts and taking actions to address ocean acidification. In 2012, the state convened the Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification, which included scientists, industry, tribal representatives, federal agencies, state legislators and ocean advocates, to develop recommendations on how to better understand, reduce and address the impacts of ocean acidification. Their recommendations continue to guide Washington’s efforts related to ocean acidification.

Tomorrow, Inslee will announce his 2017-19 budget proposals, which will include additional funding for research and propagation of native shellfish and seaweed populations tolerant to ocean acidification at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Manchester Research hatchery. His proposal will also continue funding for the Washington Ocean Acidification Center at the University of Washington, which advances the science of ocean acidification, monitors ocean conditions, and provides environmental data to prevent damage to the state’s $270 million shellfish industry. Inslee will also announce proposed funding to continue the work of the Washington Marine Resources Advisory Council that evaluates actions to combat ocean acidification including those important to the state’s shellfish industry.

“Our ocean sustains our natural systems, supports the jobs in our coastal economies and feeds billions of people. We must, and we will, significantly reduce the world’s carbon pollution to protect the health of the ocean and keep the damage from worsening,” Inslee said. “I am grateful that governments and ocean advocates will be working together on this vital issue for the future of our state and generations to come.”

More information at www.OAAlliance.org

Media Contact 

Tara Lee
Governor Inslee’s Communications Office
360.902.4136