House Passes Bill to Track Effect of Climate Change on Oceans
(Washington, DC) – Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4174, the Federal Ocean Acidification Research And Monitoring Act of 2007, by a voice vote. This bill establishes an Interagency Committee on Ocean Acidification to plan and oversee a program to research and monitoring to better understand the potential impacts of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems.
"Millions of Americans depend on the oceans for their livelihood," stated Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN). "On top of overfishing, pollution, and rising water temperatures, ocean acidification is stress that could dramatically and permanently alter our ocean environments. Our Committee will continue its work using science and technology to track, predict, and prevent the many impacts of climate change."
Ocean acidification is the process by which the pH of seawater is being lowered through the absorption of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. The oceans have absorbed about half of the CO2 released over the past 200 years due to human activities.
As the oceans become more acidic it will be more difficult for shellfish, corals, and types of plankton to form their structures, like shells and skeletons. Loss of these organisms will affect the entire ocean food web because fish and marine mammals rely upon plankton and shellfish as a food source. This has serious implications for humans as well. Fish and marine organisms provide approximately 15 percent of the world’s protein. Currently, the U.S. is the third largest seafood consumer in the world; costal and marine commercial fishing generates as much as $30 billion per year and roughly 70,000 jobs.
"Millions of people across the world depend on our oceans every day, either as a source for food, or for their very economic survival. Yet these vital resources are being slowly choked by water that is rapidly becoming more acidic," said Research and Science Education Subcommittee Chairman Brian Baird (D-WA). "We can’t afford to sit and do nothing while this potentially catastrophic problem festers in the background. This bill takes an important step towards understanding, and hopefully solving the problem of ocean acidification before it’s too late."
H.R. 4174, the FOARM Act, was introduced by Rep. Tom Allen (D-ME) on November 14, 2008. This legislation favorably passed the House Science and Technology Committee Subcommittee on Energy and Environment on June 18 and the Full Committee on June 25. Next, this bill will be sent to the Senate for further consideration.