On October 7, 2014, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop co-hosted by the Island Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council focused on "Increasing Community Resilience to Ocean Acidification in Maine: Analyzing and Responding to the Economic, Cultural, and Social Impacts." This event is part of broader efforts underway to understand and address ocean acidification effects in Maine. The Maine Ocean Acidification Commission, a 16-member panel, was established by the Legislature in early summer 2014 to synthesize our current understanding of the issue, its implications for Maine, and identify actions that can be taken to increase our knowledge base about ocean acidification, its effects, and options for remediation, adaptation, and mitigation. The Commission held it's first meeting on the state of ocean acidification science at the Darling Marine Center in August 2014. The October workshop focused on the human and community dimension of the ocean acidification issue.
The speaker lineup started with the mechanics of the acidification process and implications for marine species in response to changes in ocean chemistry. The next set of speakers focused on how communities can define vulnerability, resilience, and identify threats to coastal economic sectors such as fisheries or tourism and biodiversity. Once the morning session wrapped up, we broke into small groups to brainstorm the aspects of our coastal communities that we value and would like to maintain as well as indicators and data sources to measure those values.
The afternoon speakers provided an overview on solutions, both regulatory and non-regulatory that have been implemented elsewhere to address ocean acidification. For example, local mitigation of ocean acidification is possible through certain measures. Since nutrients are known to increase the rate of ocean acidification, enforcement of regulations meant to control point and non-point pollution sources can reduce nutrient runoff thus eliminating a contributing factor to the acidification process. The break-out groups were tasked with developing strategies to implement in Maine. It was reassuring to see people from different sectors - nonprofit, government, industry - coming together to tackle a very serious issue for Maine. The work done throughout the day will be summarized in a report. We will plan to share the final products once they have been made available... stay tuned!