Turtle Island Call for Action on Ocean Acidification.

Turtle Island signed on to an open letter addressed to Washington Governor Inslee’s commending him for his leadership on ocean acidification, and also addressed to the Department of Ecology asking that they follow suit and also take action on ocean acidification.

Open letter to Governor Jay Inslee

Dear Governor Inslee,

Thank you for your important leadership on ocean acidification. As you know, it’s an issue that’s critical to the health of coastal communities in Washington and along the West Coast and deserves action. Unfortunately, the Washington Department of Ecology has publicly stated there’s insufficient evidence that ocean acidification is harming Washington’s aquatic life. These statements have confused the public and impeded action needed to address ocean acidification. We ask that you set the record straight and start within your own cabinet.

The science of ocean acidification is clear. There are immutable facts of ocean acidification in the Pacific Northwest that cannot be denied:

1.       CO2  pollution changes ocean chemistry, which impairs the ability of organisms to build their protective shells and skeletons;

2.       Anthropogenic CO2 emissions are detectable and have increased the occurrence of conditions that are harmful to shell-building animals off the coast of Washington;

3.       Ocean acidification has pushed seawater chemistry beyond important biological thresholds for some shellfish in the Pacific Northwest; and

4.       Ocean acidification has been linked to massive oyster larvae mortality in Pacific Northwest shellfish hatcheries.

In sum, there is sufficient science that ocean acidification poses a significant threat to wildlife, fisheries, and coastal economies in the Pacific Northwest. There is a robust and well-established body of science documenting that ocean acidification can harm marine life and that it is a real water quality problem.  We also know how to fix the problem, starting with limiting the amount of carbon dioxide pollution that enters our oceans.

The Department of Ecology has a responsibility to the public to take ocean acidification seriously and to take steps to address it. Instead, the agency has rejected the science, saying ocean acidification is not impairing coastal waters. The agency has apparently made these statements to avoid having to take steps necessary under the Clean Water Act to protect our ocean and wildlife. (In court documents, the agency noted that its finding on ocean acidification “appropriately avoids the necessary next step after listing of determining a total maximum daily load for pollutants in affected waters.”)

The scientific evidence for ocean acidification in the Pacific Northwest is clear and compelling, and it’s deeply troubling to see the Department of Ecology deny that reality. We are writing to urge you to bring the Department of Ecology along with you in your bold leadership on climate change and ocean acidification. Washington can and should be a leader on this critical issue. The time to act is now to prevent the worst consequences of ocean acidification and to promote healthy oceans and coastal economies.


Turtle Island Restoration Network