Senators Urge National Strategy for Ocean Acidification Monitoring

Senators Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, and Mark Begich,
D-Alaska, are calling for a national strategy to address ocean acidification
and prevent harm to Alaska and the nation’s commercial fishing industry.
The announcement Aug. 11 came during a tour of the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s laboratory in Seattle, to see
high-tech buoys and sensors that NOAA uses to monitor ocean conditions. NOAA
administers the buoys under the Integrated Ocean Observation System.
Cantwell and Begich announced a legislative effort to make
ocean acidification monitoring a national priority. They said they plan to
introduce legislation that would reauthorize the IOOS program and require NOAA
to prioritize what fisheries and fish habitat are most at risk, so officials
can determine where to deploy more sensors. Their bill would create the first
ever national ocean acidification monitoring plan that targets deployment of
monitors to the areas under greatest economic threat.
Ocean acidification occurs as a result of seawater absorbing
carbon dioxide, which makes the ocean waters more corrosive to shells of
oysters, mussels and crab. Research has shown a connection between increasing
ocean acidity and high mortality rates in fish and crab.

Scientists do not yet know enough about which areas are most
at risk. The buoys are equipped with sensors that can regularly check surface
waters for carbon dioxide concentrations, temperature, salinity and oxygen
levels, and transmit that data back to researchers. Researchers also can use
“wave gliders” powered by wave motion, like remote controlled surfboards, that
can monitor conditions in different locations.