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Wexton Amendment to Measure Economic Impact of Ocean Acidification on Chesapeake Bay Businesses Approved by Committee

Congresswoman Wexton’s amendment would ensure an accurate assessment of the impact ocean acidification will have on Virginia’s robust commercial fishing industry and outdoor recreation 

An amendment offered by Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) during the Science, Space, and Technology Committee markup of H.R. 1716, the Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act of 2019, passed unanimously. The amendment directs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to include in their assessment on the social and economic vulnerability of communities affected by ocean acidification, the economic impact on commercial fisheries and outdoor recreation.

“The economies of coastal states and their communities rely on the success of commercial fisheries and outdoor recreation,” said Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton. “These industries support millions of jobs and generate billions of dollars in revenue, and many are family-owned.”

“In my home state of Virginia, the Chesapeake Bay has one of the largest commercial shellfish industries in the United States and supports a vibrant recreation economy. However, the Bay is likely to feel the effects of ocean acidification more quickly than other regions due to its unique characteristics.”

Congresswoman Wexton’s amendment is also supported by the Seafood Harvesters of America, who represent commercial fishermen and women throughout the U.S.

About H.R. 1716, the Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act of 2019:
The Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act of 2019 directs NOAA to study the socioeconomic impacts of ocean acidification on coastal communities across the United States.

Ocean Acidification Threatens Our Coastal Communities:

  • Ocean acidification is a growing problem for coastal communities and economies that are dependent on ocean resources. Coastal economies contribute significantly to the nation’s GDP. 
  • According to NOAA, fourteen percent of U.S. counties that are adjacent to the coasts produce 45 percent of the nation’s GDP, with nearly three million jobs directly dependent on ocean and coastal resources. 
  • Some coastal economies in the United States have already been negatively impacted by ocean acidification. One of the earliest examples was the near collapse of the Pacific Northwest shellfish hatchery industry in the mid-2000s. Low pH water was linked to mortality of shellfish larvae in the region, causing local commercial hatchery failures and associated major economic losses.

From the Ocean Conservancy, background on Virginia’s commercial fishing industry:

  • Virginia’s domestic seafood industry (without imports) is larger than in any other state in the Mid-Atlantic or South Atlantic.
  • In 2016, the state’s domestic seafood industry contributed $503 million to GDP, and created $972 million in sales impacts.
  • The industry supported nearly 16,000 jobs in Virginia and generated $371 million in income in 2016.