Two trends that will transform Washington’s coast, ocean acidification and sea level rise, are on the agenda for an April 8 workshop in Aberdeen. The 9 am-noon session will focus on emerging research assessing potential to remediate carbon pollution and acidification with marine and coastal vegetation, while restoring estuaries and other coastal areas. Salt marsh plants, sea grasses, kelp, and other natural and cultured vegetation will be discussed and sea level rise considered.

Presenters include Jennifer Ruesink, a University of Washington biologist, and Stephanie Smith from the Oregon State University College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences speaking about current research on seagrasses. Stephen Crooks, Climate Change Director for Environmental Services Associates will report on the carbon-burying potential of estuary restoration then brief participants on coastal climate change adaptation and carbon credits.

The morning will conclude with aquaculture consultant John Forster looking at the proven benefits and potential earnings from farming the sea while sequestering carbon. Macroalgae culture can yield food, fuel, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and other commercial products.

The 1-4 pm session explores options to prepare for ocean acidification and sea level rise through local planning and policy processes such as shoreline management plans. Public officeholders, board and commission members, agency officials, and others involved in ocean planning and policy are urged to attend. Members of the Marine Resources Advisory Council, the Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification, and coastal Marine Resource Committees will participate.

“Rising seas will drive a huge expansion of estuaries,” said Brad Warren, director of Global Ocean Health, an initiative of two nonprofit groups that helps seafood producers and coastal communities adapt to changing ocean chemistry. “If we learn to plan for it well, sea level rise might be more than just a problem—which it certainly will be—but an opportunity. Higher water will make more room for estuarine ecosystems that can sometimes chemically shelter vulnerable larvae from corrosive waters. It won’t be a smooth transition, but sea level rise may open up new areas for farming shellfish and marketable marine macroalgae. It will increase coastal habitats that support hunting and fishing, and expand the nursery grounds that support most of the world’s seafood supply.  Some of these habitats also bury more carbon than a tropical rainforest.”

The free (including lunch), public workshop is presented by Global Ocean Health and the Surfrider Foundation. It will be held at the Rotary Log Cabin Pavilion, 1401 Sargent Blvd., Aberdeen. More info at http://surfriderwashingtoncoast.blogspot.com/p/ocean-acidification-workshop.html. Registration is not required.

Contact: Eric Swenson, Communications & Outreach Director, Global Ocean Health eric.swenson@sustainablefish.org, (206) 334-7333
Casey Dennehy, Washington Pacific Coast Manager, Surfrider Foundation, cdennehy@surfrider.org, (360) 556-6509