WASHINGTON D.C. - Our oceans are becoming more acidic by the day, threatening the survival of everything from plankton, to shellfish, to coral reefs and countless other aquatic species. Recently Congressman Brian Baird took decisive action to reverse that by reintroducing the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act (FOARAM). The bill overwhelmingly passed the House in 2008.
When signed into law FOARAM will charge the Joint Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology with overseeing the planning, establishment and coordination of a plan to improve the understanding of ocean acidification and its impact on marine ecosystems.
"From the people who work in the seafood and shellfish industry, to those who enjoy our maritime resources, the consequences of an increasingly acidic ocean to the people of Washington could be nothing short of catastrophic," said Congressman Baird. "I refuse to pass this problem off to future generations; we must work to solve it today."
The world's oceans help mitigate the effects of global warming by absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide; however, as CO2 levels increase, the oceans are becoming overwhelmed and more acidic. With more than two thirds of the Earth's surface covered by water the effects of these changes can be catastrophic.
"Millions, if not billions, of people all across the world depend on our oceans to put food on their tables, and money in their pockets," added Congressman Baird. "Ocean acidification is slowly choking this vital worldwide economic engine. Waiting for someone else to fix the problem simply isn't an option."
A recent study funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), showed the scope of the problem facing North America's West Coast is far greater than scientists ever imagined. Alarmingly high levels of acidified water have been found within 20 miles of the shore, which could spell disaster for ecosystems from Mexico to Canada, and everywhere in between.
"Scientists say they didn't expect to see ocean acidification levels this high until the middle, or even late part of this century," added Congressman Baird. "This study should serve as an eye opener for everyone, and illustrates why we must solve this problem right now."
When signed into law, FOARAM will develop and coordinate a comprehensive interagency plan to monitor and conduct research on the processes and consequences of ocean acidification on marine organisms and ecosystems. It will also establish ocean acidification programs within NOAA, the National Science Foundation and NASA.
"This legislation takes an important step toward fully identifying the scope of the problem we're facing. Only then will we be able to begin the search for solutions," concluded Congressman Baird. "Water is life; we can't afford to sit on the sidelines while our oceans slowly die."