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OR - Oregon Recognized as Leader in Efforts to Stem Climate and Ocean Changes

Oregon again was recognized as a leader in efforts to stem climate change and ocean acidification and hypoxia (OAH).

The legislatively-created Oregon Coordinating Council on OAH recently was recognized for its efforts to guide Oregon’s response to ocean change and OAH. The Coordinating Council received an Honorable Mention for the 2020 Climate Adaptation Leadership Award for Natural Resources.

ODFW’s Dr. Caren Braby and OSU’s Dr. Jack Barth lead the Coordinating Council.

The award, given by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, recognizes the Coordinating Council’s exemplary leadership in reducing climate related threats through developing and carrying out the 2019-2025 OAH Action Plan.

Hypoxia (low Oxygen) occurs when deeper ocean waters with less oxygen rise and are pushed closer to the shore. This happens more frequently than normal due to climate changes that heat the land and ocean waters and change normal wind patterns. Ocean acidification is caused when carbon dioxide from our atmosphere enters the ocean and chemically reacts with ocean water, making the oceans more acidic (lowering the pH).

“Oregon is a hotspot for OAH,” Barth said. “Oregon’s coastlines naturally experience some low oxygen and more acidic waters from ocean upwelling (old deep water which is pushed nearshore by ocean currents). However, combined with increasingly more human-produced carbon dioxide being absorbed by the ocean and intensifying global warming, we have the perfect storm.”

Oregon was one of the first states to experience impacts of OAH (changes in ocean acidity and oxygen levels). In the early 2000’s the Pacific Northwest oyster hatchery production collapsed due to acidification, and the fishing fleet began pulling pots full of dead Dungeness crab during hypoxic conditions. Shellfish are particularly vulnerable to OAH and are also the bread and butter of Oregon’s commercial seafood industry, bringing over $100 million annually into coastal communities.

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