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A Voice for Our Ocean

Statement: New Ocean Acidification Research Legislation Aims to Protect America’s Estuaries

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representatives Bill Posey (R-FL-8), Brian Mast (R-FL-18), and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-1) introduced H.R. 6270, the National Estuaries and Acidification Research Act (NEAR Act), to provide for a study by the Ocean Studies Board of the National Academies of Science examining the impact of ocean acidification and other stressors on American estuaries and nearshore waters. The following statement was issued by Sarah Cooley, Director of Ocean Conservancy’s Ocean Acidification Program:

“Healthy estuaries are a critical economic and recreational driver in coastal communities across the country. Estuaries contribute $320 billion to our nation’s GDP through transportation, recreation, tourism and other port activities and provide habitat for more than 75% of commercially caught fish in the United States.

“Ten years of federal investment in ocean acidification research has shown that acidification hurts tourism, recreational fishing, and coastal communities that depend on these healthy marine ecosystems. However, because acidification often interacts with other coastal processes, like runoff, erosion, and upwelled water from the ocean, it is difficult to measure its individual impact in estuarine environments.

“In introducing this important legislation, Representatives Bill Posey, Brian Mast, and Suzanne Bonamici have taken an important step forward in improving how we can adjust our policy framework to deal with these challenges and better protect our nation’s estuaries. Ocean Conservancy thanks them for championing this bill.”

NOTES FOR EDITORS

  • Estuaries filter sediments and pollutants out before river water reaches the ocean.
  • In 1972, Congress created the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) to protect a system of estuaries that represent the range of coastal estuarine habitats in the U.S. and its territories. Additionally, in 1987, Congress created the National Estuary Program (NEP) to protect and restore the water quality and ecological integrity of estuaries of national significance. More recently, in early 2017, the Congressional Estuary Caucus, which includes Representatives Posey and Bonamici as co-chairs, was founded to help educate leaders at all levels of government about the importance of estuaries, and ensure that we sustain the robust support for proven programs that work to confront the mutual troubles of U.S. estuaries.