Department of Ecology News Release - January 17, 2013

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Coastal legislators top Jan. 25 marine advisory council agenda

OLYMPIA – Washington’s coastal state legislators have been invited to share their perspectives on important ocean issues and legislative priorities at the Jan. 25, 2013, Washington Coastal Marine Advisory Council meeting in Olympia. 

The public meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Pritchard Building, Washington Room, 415 Sid Snyder Ave. S.W., Olympia. The meeting agenda is at: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/ocean/pdf/agenda_jan2013.pdf

Lawmakers have been invited to discuss marine spatial planning, ocean acidification recommendations and potential legislation affecting Washington’s coast. During work sessions, the advisory council will discuss 2013 priorities and prepare a timeline of activities for the coming year. They also will hear updates on other projects including marine spatial planning activities.

Planning ocean uses, called marine spatial planning, is an approach adopted by the Washington Legislature. It is intended to help reduce conflicts among ocean uses such as maritime shipping, economic development, fishing, aquaculture and recreation, and balance the benefits humans receive from the ocean while decreasing human-caused environmental damage.

The process will include involvement and participation from coastal fishing and shellfish industries, maritime shipping, recreation, ports and local communities along the coast.

Ocean acidification occurs as oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Nutrients and other pollutants can exacerbate the problem. When saltwater becomes acidic, it harms the shell-making ability of oysters, clams, scallops and mussels. It poses a threat to other marine life as well.

Washington has a big stake in responding to ocean acidification because the high risks to the shellfish industry, an important economic driver for the state’s economy valued at more than $270 million a year.

In February 2012, Gov. Chris Gregoire convened a Blue Ribbon Panel to recommend actions for responding to increasing ocean acidification, reduce harmful effects on Washington’s shellfish and other marine resources, and adapt to the consequences of acidified waters.

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) formed the advisory council to advise the State Ocean Caucus, a team made up of state agencies with a management role or expertise in ocean and coastal issues.

The advisory council provides local perspectives on and solutions to marine resource issues, projects and conflicts.

The unpaid group meets four to six times a year. People on the advisory council represent a wide array of coastal and ocean interests including Marine Resource committees, commercial and recreational fishing, shellfish aquaculture, conservation, economic development, education, local citizens, ports, scientific research and maritime shipping.

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Media contact:

Curt Hart, 360-407-6990; cell, 360-480-7908 (curt.hart@ecy.wa.gov)

Washington Coastal Marine Advisory Council (http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/ocean/advisorycouncil.html)

Washington State Ocean Caucus (http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/ocean/oceangroup.html)

Marine spatial planning (http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/msp/index.html)

Washington Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification (http://www.ecy.wa.gov/water/marine/oceanacidification.html)

Ecology's social media (www.ecy.wa.gov/about/newmedia.html)