Maryland Takes Action to Protect Coastal Waters, Culture & Economies

1/21/2015

Maryland is getting ahead of the game by taking decisive action to protect the Chesapeake Bay and Maryland waters. The Task Force to Study the Impact of Ocean Acidification on State Waters took another step forward by issuing a report calling for monitoring, industry partnerships and collaboration with federal agencies. Maryland is one of the first East Coast states to take action on ocean acidification, and these proactive efforts will help the state reduce potential impacts and its coastal businesses prepare for a changing ocean.

“The Task Force did a great job addressing what this global issue might mean for our local waters, communities and industries,” said Eric Schwaab, Task Force Chair and National Aquarium Chief Conservation Officer. "This report is a much-needed first step, as we make important recommendations to the General Assembly and new Administration to protect Maryland’s $1.65 billion blue crab, oyster and striped bass seafood industry.”

This Task Force was formed by the Maryland General Assembly during its 2014 session through House Bill 118. The bill states, “The Task Force shall: analyze the best available science regarding ocean acidification and the potential effects of acidification on the ecology of State waters and on State fisheries; and make recommendations regarding potential strategies to mitigate the effects of acidification on State waters and on State fisheries.”

Key findings from Maryland’s Task Force focus on seven areas that should be addressed in order to enhance acidification understanding, recognize its impacts on Maryland aquatic industries and leverage resources to capitalize on federal and other state acidification research and monitoring programs. Key areas include:

  • Enhancing monitoring of State waters to quantify scale, patterns and trends of ocean acidification
  • Establishing additional research priorities in estuarine and coastal waters Improving coordination with other state and federal resource managers
  • Focusing on impacts to key species and associated activities, such as blue crabs, oysters and striped bass
  • Providing direct support to affected industries
  • Pursuing legislative action
  • Improving communications and outreach

Addressing the above seven issue areas identified by the Task Force will position Maryland in both the short- and long-term to leverage existing monitoring, research and programmatic assets; collect the information necessary to assess the impacts of acidification on our aquatic resources; communicate the results to various stakeholders to meet the demands of our expanding aquatic industries; and mitigate the impacts of rising CO2 emissions.

Maryland is just one of several states taking decisive action on this issue. Washington was the first state to take executive action on ocean acidification in 2012, followed by legislative action the next year, after acidification caused millions of dollars of losses to its shellfish industry. West Coast shellfish growers are already benefiting from increased information and real time data as a result of state leadership. Maine’s ocean acidification task force—also created in 2014 by state lawmakers—will be forwarding its recommendations to the legislature soon and is expected to emphasize research as well.

On behalf of the Task Force, Schwaab will be briefing the Environment and Transportation Committee of the House of Delegates on January 28th.

View the final report at: http://bit.ly/MDOATF_finalreport.

Categories:
Conservation, Research