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Bonamici Introduces Bill to Protect Health of Ocean, Estuaries from Climate Crisis

March 1, 2021
Press Release
Bill Will Strengthen Research and Response to Ocean Acidification


WASHINGTON, DC [3/1/21] – Today Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) reintroduced her bipartisan Coastal and Ocean Acidification and Threats (COAST) Research Act, which will help coastal communities adapt to the climate crisis by expanding scientific research, monitoring, and adaptation of ocean and coastal acidification.


“The health of our ocean reflects the health of our planet, and for too long the ocean has been taking the heat for us,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “By absorbing carbon dioxide, our ocean and estuaries become more acidic, destabilizing fisheries and threatening coastal communities and ecosystems. Scientists predict these events will become more severe and more common on the Pacific Coast, but my COAST Research Act will expand the scientific research and monitoring to help communities adapt and mitigate the worst effects.”


The climate crisis has exacerbated changes in water chemistry, inflicting devastating damage on estuaries and marine ecosystems and the coastal communities that rely on them. It is making it difficult for marine organisms to build their shells, and causing some finfish, including endangered salmon, to lose the sense of smell they need to survive and reproduce.


"We at Wild Salmon Center support the Coastal and Ocean Acidification Stressors and Threats (COAST) Research Act, which will allow our coastal communities and businesses to understand and respond to ocean acidification,” said Sara LaBorde, Executive Vice president at the Wild Salmon Center. “The Pacific Northwest recreational and commercial fishing industry, the shellfish industry, and our great tourism economy all depend on a healthy ocean.  We are already seeing the effects of ocean acidification, and we need to know what is happening and how quickly things are changing. Much of our knowledge and understanding of ocean acidification that emerged in the last decade can be credited to critical federal funding that is no longer authorized.  The COAST Research Act will restore that funding and improve our ability to understand acidification in the open ocean as well as in the coastal zone. "


Bonamici is the Co-Chair of the House Oceans Caucus and Congressional Estuary Caucus, as well as the only member from the Pacific Northwest on the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. Last Congress, the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis wrote a comprehensive Climate Action Plan to solve the climate crisis. The COAST Research Act unanimously passed the House in 2019 and is included in the Climate Action Plan.


The COAST Research Act will help confront the challenges of ocean and coastal acidification by:

  • Strengthening investments in ocean acidification and coastal acidification research and monitoring in the context of other environmental stressors.
  • Recognizing the effects of ocean acidification on estuaries and integrating research, monitoring, and adaptation strategies for coastal acidification. 
  • Increasing our understanding of the socioeconomic effects of ocean acidification and coastal acidification. 
  • Establishing an Advisory Board to increase coordination among stakeholders. 
  • Designating NOAA as the lead federal agency responsible for implementing the federal response to ocean acidification and coastal acidification. 
  • Creating data processing, storage, and archive systems to provide for the long-term stewardship and standardization of ocean acidification data. 


Bonamici was joined by House Oceans Caucus Co-Chair Don Young (R-AK), and Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), and Bill Posey (R-FL) in co-leading the bill, and Reps. Donald S. Beyer Jr. (D-VA), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Rick Larsen (D-WA), Ed Case (D-HI), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Charlie Crist (D-FL) as original cosponsors.


The COAST Research Act has been endorsed by the IOOS Association, Consortium for Ocean Leadership, Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems, Ocean Conservancy, Surfrider Foundation, Earthjustice, Wild Salmon Center, Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, the Oregon Coordinating Council on Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia, and Oregon State University.