The Task Force to Study the Impact of Ocean Acidification on State Waters was formed by the Maryland General Assembly during its 2014 session through House Bill 118 (http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2014RS/bills/hb/hb0118e.pdf). The bill states, “The Task Force shall: analyze the best available science regarding ocean acidification and the potential effects of acidification on the ecology of State waters and on State fisheries; and make recommendations regarding potential strategies to mitigate the effects of acidification on State waters and on State fisheries.”
Beginning July 2014, the Task Force comprised of representatives from the Maryland Senate, the Maryland House of Delegates, the National Aquarium, the Aquaculture Industry, the Maryland Watermen’s Association, the Maryland Departments of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Environment (MDE), the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES), the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and several outside experts and interested stakeholders met on a monthly basis to evaluate the basic science and problems of acidification in Maryland waters. Much is known about the ocean becoming more acidic from increased introduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, and the importance of upwelling events in the coastal ocean off of Washington State that have impacted the success of shellfish aquaculture facilities. Much less is known about the more complex acidification processes in shallow estuarine environments like Maryland’s Chesapeake and Coastal Bays, which are highly sensitive to terrestrial inputs, and the potential impacts that may be posed to the aquaculture industry and important fisheries such as oysters, crabs, striped bass, and other aquatic resources.
The information gaps to understanding the impacts of acidification in Maryland’s waters are large. Key findings from Maryland’s Task Force focus on seven areas that should be addressed in order to enhance our acidification understanding, its impacts to Maryland aquatic industries, and to leverage resources to capitalize on federal and other state acidification research and monitoring programs.