By Ramona Du Houx.
November 21st, 2013, MaineInsights.com
The Legislative Council on Thursday voted to reverse an earlier decision to reject a bill to address ocean acidification for the upcoming legislative session in January.
The measure sponsored by Rep. Mick Devin, would establish an 11-member commission to study and address the negative effects of ocean acidification.If left unchecked, ocean acidification could cause major losses to Maine’s major inshore shellfisheries, including clams, oysters, lobsters, shrimp and sea urchins, risking thousands of jobs and billions of dollars to the state’s economy.
“Maine’s marine resources support a billion dollar industry and thousands of jobs,” said Devin. “Ocean acidification has the potential to shut down Maine’s shellfish industry and we can’t afford to lose it.”
Rising levels of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use are in part absorbed by the ocean. Because carbon dioxide and seawater combine to make carbonic acid, these naturally alkaline ocean waters become more acidic. Carbonic acid can dissolve the shells of shellfish, an important commercial marine resource. Over the past two centuries, ocean acidity levels have increased 30 percent.
Devin won his appeal by a vote of 7-3.
Nick Battista, Director of Marine Programs at the Island Institute, says that ocean acidification is one of the least understood threats facing Maine’s economy.