Policy ForumOceans

Mitigating Local Causes of Ocean Acidification with Existing Laws

Science  27 May 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6033, pp. 1036-1037
DOI: 10.1126/science.1203815

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Summary

As the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) continues to rise, so too does the amount of CO2 in the ocean (1, 2), which increases the ocean's acidity. This affects marine ecosystems on a global scale in ways we are only beginning to understand: for example, impairing the ability of organisms to form shells or skeletons, altering food webs, and negatively affecting economies dependent on services ranging from coral reef tourism to shellfish harvests to salmon fisheries (35). Although increasing anthropogenic inputs drive acidification at global scales, local acidification disproportionately affects coastal ecosystems and the communities that rely on them. We describe policy options by which local and state governments—as opposed to federal and international bodies—can reduce these local and regional “hot spots” of ocean acidification.