Rep. Devin appeals rejection of ocean acidification bill

Inshore fisheries, aquaculture industry threatened by changes in chemistry
Thu, 11/07/2013 - 12:30pm

Rep. Mick Devin, D-Newcastle, on Wednesday appealed the rejection of a bill that would establish a study to look at the effects of ocean acidification. The bill was voted down by the Legislative Council for inclusion in the upcoming session.

Rising levels of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels use cause naturally alkaline ocean waters to become acidic, forming carbonic acid. Carbonic acid dissolves the shells of shellfish, an important commercial marine resource. Ocean acidity levels have increased 30 percent since the Industrial Revolution.

“We must protect Maine’s marine resources and the many jobs they support,” said Devin. “We need to educate ourselves and address the harm to our commercial shellfish industries.”

The bill would establish an 11-member commission to study 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 in the state’s economy.

A 2007 study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration discovered changes in ocean chemistry not expected for another 50 to 100 years were present on the West Coast, which caused the failure of shellfish hatcheries in Washington State.

“We don’t want Maine to be next,” said Devin. “We have too much to lose.”

Bills for the Legislature’s second session must win approval from the Legislative Council. The second session of the Legislature is typically reserved for top-priority or emergency measures.

The appeal hearing will be on November 21 in the Legislative Council chambers at the State House.