Good morning and welcome to today’s hearing on the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act: H.R. 4174.
We have heard that climate change will have tremendous consequences for our environment and today we will learn about one of these in detail—ocean acidification.
The oceans cover over seventy percent of the earth’s surface and have absorbed as much as fifty percent of our carbon emissions during the past two hundred years.
As we will hear from our witnesses today, the addition of this excess carbon dioxide has altered the equilibrium between the atmosphere and the ocean and it is making seawater more acidic.
Ocean acidification poses a threat to many marine organisms and ocean ecosystems. It reduces the ability of shellfish and corals to form their shells and skeletons. It impacts the health and survival of other organisms that are part of the food chain supporting fish and marine mammals.
Coral reefs and many of our fisheries are already compromised by over fishing, disease, pollution, and rising water temperatures. Ocean acidification is yet another stress that could dramatically and permanently alter our ocean environments.
H.R. 4174 introduced by our colleague from Maine, Congressman Tom Allen, and co-sponsored by two Members of this Committee, Mr. Baird and Mr. Ehlers is intended to coordinate and expand the efforts of the federal government to expand our knowledge of ocean acidification. Through more comprehensive monitoring and research we can begin to develop strategies to address the impacts of these changes on our fisheries and ocean ecosystems.
We have a distinguished panel of experts here with us today. I look forward your testimony and your recommendations of what the Federal government can do to address this serious issue and preserve the productivity and diversity of our oceans.