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Congressional Estuary Caucus

Bonamici, Posey Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Address Ocean Acidification

Legislation will strengthen research on the health of our oceans and estuaries

House Oceans Caucus Co-Chair Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Estuary Caucus Co-Chair Bill Posey (R-FL) have introduced the bipartisan Coastal and Ocean Acidification Stressors and Threats (COAST) Research Act, H.R. 6267. This bill will strengthen the federal investment in research and monitoring of changing ocean conditions to help coastal communities better understand and cope with the effects of environmental stressors on oceans and estuaries.

Changes in ocean chemistry can threaten jobs in our coastal communities and are felt across the country by everyone who shops at grocery stores or eats in restaurants that rely on stable supplies of seafood and shellfish. Ocean acidification also affects fisheries and shellfish farmers who depend on the oceans’ resources to support their families, and tribes that have rights and deep cultural and historical connections to diminishing species. The sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, the blue economy, contributes at least $352 billion to the economy every year.

“The health of our oceans reflects the health of our planet,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “As our oceans, coastal estuaries, and waterways absorb carbon dioxide, they become more acidic and less hospitable for fish, organisms, and wildlife. These changes threaten fisheries, the economic future of coastal communities, and ocean and coastal ecosystems. We must invest in research to better understand ocean and coastal acidification and give affected communities the tools they need to adapt and mitigate the effects.”

“Because estuaries are places where fresh water mixes with salt water from the oceans, preserving the delicate balance of nature is necessary but can also be challenging,” said Rep. Bill Posey. “This critical legislation will help protect our estuaries by ensuring that we continue to study and monitor the effects of coastal acidification and I would like to thank Representative Bonamici for her work on this issue and her important leadership in our bipartisan estuary caucus.”

The COAST Research Act will help confront the challenges of ocean acidification and coastal acidification by reauthorizing the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) through Fiscal Year 2022. The authorization of this important funding has lapsed since Fiscal Year 2012. The legislation would:
- Increase our understanding of the socioeconomic effects of ocean acidification and coastal acidification.
- Engage stakeholders, the commercial fishing industry, researchers, and community leaders through the creation of an Advisory Board to inform federal response efforts.
- Provide for the long-term stewardship and standardization of data on ocean acidification and coastal acidification using existing assets from the National Centers for Environmental Information and the Integrated Ocean Observing System.
- Recognize the effects on ocean acidification and coastal acidification on estuaries and other waterways as well as oceans.
- Designate NOAA as the lead federal agency responsible for implementing the federal response to ocean acidification and coastal acidification.

Bonamici crafted the legislation with input from the Natural Resources Defense Council, IOOS Association, NANOOS, Ocean Conservancy, Consortium for Ocean Leadership, Restore America’s Estuaries, researchers at Oregon State University, Oregon Coordinating Council on Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia, and the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership. Earlier this year, Bonamici led 49 of her colleagues in advocating for Fiscal Year 2019 funding for the Integrated Ocean Acidification Program, which provides resources to research and monitor effects of ocean acidification.

The House Oceans Caucus is a bipartisan group of House members committed to taking action to protect the health and future of our oceans. The Caucus led the introduction of the Save Our Seas Act to assist local communities and states in removing garbage and debris from oceans and shores. In addition to marine debris and ocean acidification, the Caucus focuses on efforts to address illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and weather and natural disaster hazards that threaten coastal communities and wildlife. Bonamici and Posey are Co-Chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Estuary Caucus, which is dedicated to promoting the successes of estuary restoration and conservation, as well as addressing the challenges facing our nation's estuaries.

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