June 13, 2023

Whitehouse, Colleagues Reintroduce Bill to Help Protect RI Shellfish Industry from Damaging Ocean Acidification

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has joined U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and colleagues from both sides of the aisle to reintroduce the Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act, legislation that will strengthen coordination and collaboration between federal, state, local, and tribal entities on ocean acidification research and monitoring.

“Ocean acidification caused by carbon pollution is a major threat to Rhode Island’s aquaculture industry and to the overall health of our oceans,” said Whitehouse, co-chair of the Senate Oceans Caucus.  “Our bipartisan legislation will build on local efforts to combat acidification across the country and ensure coastal industries can continue to grow.”

This legislation would direct NOAA to collaborate with and support state, local, and tribal entities that are conducting or have completed ocean acidification vulnerability assessments or research planning, to build upon the existing activities.  The bill strengthens partnerships between NOAA and a wide range of stakeholders involved in ocean acidification research, such as indigenous groups, coastal communities, state and local resource managers, fishery management councils and commissions, and the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System.

About thirty percent of carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere is absorbed by the ocean.  The CO2 dissolves into seawater through a series of chemical reactions, increasing the overall acidity of the ocean.  Increased seawater acidity hampers the growth and survival of young oysters and other shellfish by eating away at their shells.  In 2017, Whitehouse conducted a science experiment on the Senate floor to show what happens when CO2 enters our oceans.

The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Susan Collins (R-ME), Gary Peters (D-MI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Angus King (I-ME).

The full bill text is available here.

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921

Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921