06.13.17

During Capitol Hill Ocean Week, Kilmer, Herrera Beutler Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Help Fight Ocean Acidification

WASHINGTON, D.C. – During Capitol Hill Ocean Week, Representatives Derek Kilmer (WA-06) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to help fight ocean acidification. The bill, entitled the Ocean Acidification Innovation Act (H.R. 2882), would allow federal agencies to use existing funds to design prize competitions in order to increase the ability to manage, research, and monitor ocean acidification and its impacts.

This budget-neutral legislation was created in collaboration with key stakeholders, including the X PRIZE Foundation, an innovative non-profit organization that creates public competitions designed to encourage increased investment in solutions to problems that impact our entire society.  For example, the Ansari X PRIZE awarded in 2004 for personal spaceflight launched an entire industry which has generated more than $1 billion in investments. 

Ocean acidification is a rising threat to coastal communities in Washington state. Scientists have found the shells of pteropods – a key part of the food chain for salmon, herring, and other fish – are dissolving due to acidification. The shells of shellfish are made of the same components as pteropods, raising concern about future implications on the species.  

“Changes to ocean chemistry are threatening entire livelihoods. We want future generations to grow up in a state still connected to a healthy Pacific Ocean,” said Kilmer. “Our bipartisan bill is based on a simple idea to help our shellfish growers and fisheries: let’s provide a strong incentive for folks to research and develop ways to solve this problem.”

“The shellfish industry in Pacific County that produces 25% of our nation’s oysters continues to struggle against the negative effects attributed to ocean acidification,” said Jaime. “Our common-sense bill uses incentives to better understand and find solutions for this rising threat.”

The commercial and recreational fishing industry in Washington state alone supports over 67,000 jobs and contributes over $300 million in revenue. Washington state leads the nation in producing farmed clams, oysters, and mussels. Growers in Washington state contribute more than $250 million to the economy and support more than 3,200 jobs. In the region, the shellfish industry is the second largest employer in Mason County. The fishing and processing industry in Pacific County contributes over $150,000,000 to the local economy, producing 25% of the nation’s oysters.

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