House OKs bill to fight ocean acidification

PORT ANGELES — The U.S. House of Representatives has passed U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer’s Ocean Acidification Innovation Act.

The bill passed in the House on Wednesday and — if passed by the Senate and signed by the president — would allow federal agencies to use existing funds to increase the ability to research, monitor and manage ocean acidification and its impacts.

“We know that changing ocean chemistry threatens entire livelihoods and industries in our state. So, this bipartisan bill is really about jobs,” said Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor.

“There are generations of folks in our coastal communities who have worked in fishing and shellfish growing, but that’s endangered if we don’t maintain a healthy Pacific Ocean.”

Kilmer represents the 6th Congressional District, which includes the North Olympic Peninsula.

He said the bill creates a strong incentive for experts to focus on developing innovative solutions.

Kilmer said he hopes the Senate will “move swiftly to consider this bill and the other legislation passed by the House [on Wednesday] to help combat ocean acidification.”

In Washington alone, the commercial fishing and seafood processing industries contribute 15,900 direct jobs and $9.4 billion in revenue to the economy, according to Kilmer.

According to a report by Washington Sea Grant in 2015, Washington is the nation’s leading producer of farmed clams, oysters and mussels. The Washington Shellfish Initiative estimated that state shellfish growers directly and indirectly employ more than 2,700 people and provide an estimated total economic contribution of $184 million.

The Ocean Acidification Innovation Act, HR 1921, was approved in the House 395-22.