Governor Cuomo has given fresh hope to all of us who use and love New York’s ocean by signing into law A. 10264/ S. 7908, which establishes a state ocean acidification task force.
Awareness of the impacts of ocean acidification—the so-called "evil twin" of global warming—is just beginning, but we know:
- Acidic water makes it harder for many species of shell-building organisms like oysters and scallops to grow their protective coverings and survive.
- Ocean acidification could be having an impact on important recreational fish like summer flounder (fluke) and other fish species as well.
- New York is one of the states most vulnerable to ocean acidification, due to our economic dependence on shellfish harvesting and because our waters have high levels of nitrogen pollution, which amplifies acidification.
Given the uncertainty of future action at the Federal level, it is more important than ever that states like New York lead in tackling climate change and interconnected challenges like ocean acidification.
The task force will explore the challenges facing New York as a result of ocean acidification and solutions to get us ahead of the problem. Working together, we can:
- Identify where changes in chemistry pose the greatest ecological and economic problems and where monitoring would be most useful.
- Develop recommendations on state and local regulatory and/or statutory actions to respond to the impacts of ocean acidification.
The task force work will help enable the state to examine the intersection between ocean acidification and nitrogen pollution, likely playing a complimentary role with state efforts to tackle nitrogen pollution through the Long Island Nitrogen Action Plan and other measures.
New York's ocean resources are an economic powerhouse for the state. In 2013, ocean sector industries, such as fishing and tourism, contributed more than $22 billion to New York's gross domestic product (GDP) and supported more than 328,000 jobs. But only a healthy ocean can continue to provide the jobs, food, and recreation we rely on and celebrate. This ocean acidification task force will help us safeguard our state’s valuable shellfish and fishing industries.
NRDC congratulates the Governor and Legislature on taking the initiative to protect our valuable ocean resources and looks forward to assisting the task force with its important work to address ocean acidification.