The state of Oregon has released a six-year action plan for addressing ocean acidification and hypoxia that outlines five steps for adapting to and mitigating the impacts.
The steps include advancing scientific understanding of ocean acidification; reducing the causes; supporting resilience in Oregon’s ecosystems and communities; expanding public awareness by sharing the science, impacts and solutions; and building sustained support for mobilizing agencies to address the problem.
The plan was developed by the 13-member Oregon Coordinating Council on Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia, created in 2017 by the state Legislature to provide guidance on how to address the threats.
Ocean acidification is caused by increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that is absorbed into the ocean, which increases its acidity. Hypoxia is a low-oxygen condition in the water, caused in part by warmer ocean temperatures that can trigger toxic algae blooms. Both are induced by climate change, and are significant threats to the ocean’s ecosystem, ranging from marine mammals to crabs, oysters, salmon and other fish, according to the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre.
The council notes that the state experienced devastating impacts from ocean acidification in 2007, when the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery lost 75 percent of the larvae it needed to produce oysters. “Shifting food webs, loss of fishery productivity and lost economic opportunities are just some of the many impacts we are expecting to see as a result of increasing [ocean acidification and hypoxia],” the report said.
Oregon is part of a regional effort to understand and address ocean acidification as a founding member of the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification, which also includes Washington, British Columbia and California. It promotes voluntary government actions to manage problems caused by fossil fuel combustion, the action plan says.
The report includes a section on what citizens can do to make a difference. Those actions include helping to monitor ocean changes; reducing excess carbon by planting trees, restoring coastal habitats and being mindful of your personal carbon footprint; learning about the issue by attending lectures and other outreach events; and supporting efforts to develop action plans in local communities.