Integrative Biology professor Francis Chan is co-chair of a 20-member panel of leading West Coast ocean scientists who presented a comprehensive report recently outlining a series of recommendations to address the increase in ocean acidification and hypoxia, or extremely low oxygen levels. The report urged the governments of Oregon, California, Washington and British Columbia to take actions now to offset and mitigate the effects of global carbon dioxide emissions, which is rapidly changing ocean chemistry along the West Coast of North America.
Ocean acidification is a global problem that is having a disproportionate impact on productive West Coast ecosystems,” said Chan, a marine ecologist and co-chair of the West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel.
“There has been an attitude that there is not much we can do about this locally, but that just isn’t true. A lot of the solutions will come locally and through coordinated regional efforts.”
Ocean acidification and hypoxia are distinct phenomena that trigger a wide range of effects on marine ecosystems. They frequently occur together and represent two important facets of global ocean changes that have important implications for Oregon’s coastal oceans.
Among the panel’s recommendations:
- Develop new benchmarks for near-shore water quality as existing criteria were not developed to protect marine organisms from acidification;
- Improve methods of removing carbon dioxide from seawater through the use of kelp beds, eel grass and other plants;
- Enhance coastal ecosystems’ ability to adapt to changing ocean chemistry through better resource management, including marine reserves, adaptive breeding techniques for shellfish, and other methods.