Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ocean acidification seminar scheduled for Friday Harbor Labs

By Sandy Howard, Acting Ecology Communication Director

San Juan County residents wanting to learn more about ocean acidification are invited to a free seminar at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Labs on February 27.

Ocean acidification results from carbon dioxide emissions being absorbed from the atmosphere into seawater, forming carbonic acid. This radically alters ocean chemistry and endangers sea life. Between 2005 and 2009, up to 80 percent of the oyster larvae in in some Washington hatcheries were killed by acidification before the problem was identified and temporary counter-measures were taken.

The seminar, hosted by the San Juan County Marine Resources Committee (MRC), will feature Shallin Busch, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research ecologist, speaking on “The Science and Food Web Implications of Ocean Acidification.” Busch was a member of the Washington State Panel on Ocean Acidification.

Eric Swenson, Communications and Outreach Director for the Global Ocean Health Program of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership and National Fisheries Conservation Center, will review the work of the Panel and present “Recommendations, Partnerships and Actions.”

Eric Scigliano, journalist and author of Sweetening the Waters, written to support the work of the Panel, will look at methods to mitigate, remediate or adapt to acidification.

San Juan County MRC Chair John Aschoff said, “For many of us, ocean acidification seems like a brand new problem, but it’s been long in the making, and one that poses an immediate and far-ranging threat to our marine resources. We in the Pacific Northwest were the first to suffer significantly from acidification. The good news is that Washington was the first state in the nation to tackle the problem, and our program will look at several options for action.”

The 28-member Washington State Panel on Ocean Acidification was appointed by Governor Christine Gregoire in February 2012 and co-chaired by Bill Ruckelshaus, the first administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Jay Manning, former director of the Washington Department of Ecology. The panel presented its findings and 42 recommendations for action November 27 in Seattle. (Learn more at Ecology's Ocean Acidification web page.)

The seminar is scheduled for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, February 27, in the dining room of the Friday Harbor Labs, 620 University Road, Friday Harbor. An optional tour of the Ocean Acidification Environmental Laboratory, led by Dr. Michael O’Donnell, will follow.

In addition to the San Juan County MRC, the event is sponsored by the Northwest Straits Commission, Puget Sound Partnership, National Fisheries Conservation Center, University of Washington and Sustainable Fisheries Partnership.

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