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Washington state ocean acidification plan

Challenge

Address the effects of ocean acidification in a region reliant on shellfish.

Problem

Over the last 200 years the average acidity of the oceans has increased by 30%. Washington state (USA) is seeing serious effects of ocean acidification which is exacerbated by regional factors: seasonal ocean currents, nutrient run-off from land and air emissions all combine to produce more corrosive waters. This is threatening the state’s US$270 million a year shellfish industry. Tiny shellfish are particularly vulnerable with billions of young oysters lost from Pacific Northwest hatcheries and the food chain being disrupted by loss of pteropods – a food source for larger species.

Solution

In 2012 Washington state government acted to address the causes of ocean acidification. State agencies have been directed to begin assessing pollution issues and plans have been made for a new US$3.3 million research centre for ocean acidification. The 42-step plan is the first state-funded response to the issue of ocean acidification.

Benefits

Protection of a key industry
A deeper understanding of the causes of regional acidification

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