Story by Melia Paguirigan, Roger Arliner Young Marine Conservation Diversity Fellow, Ocean Conservancy- Ocean Acidification Program

Sharing knowledge and best practices among members is a cornerstone of the work that the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification (OA Alliance) engages in. We strive to equip members with resources and ideas for creating regional solutions to protect coastal communities.

Just this May, the OA Alliance had the opportunity to collaborate with graduate students at the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs (SMEA) at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. In consultation with scientific experts, OA Alliance staff developed a series of project prompts that addressed activities, knowledge gaps and best practices across various regions and levels of decision-making most for the purpose of identifying and synthesizing knowledge that was most relevant to OA Alliance members. The university students responded to the prompts by developing tools and resources to assist members in the development of OA Action Plans. Several of the groups were even able to connect with OA Alliance members directly to learn more about their current work, expertise, future needs and concerns.

Below is a selection of outcomes from the collaboration:

  • An analysis of regional approaches for forming an OA task force or commission across the U.S. states of Washington, Maine, Maryland and Oregon which will be compiled into a summary of best practices for initiating state-led actions on ocean acidification.
  • Recommendations for city-led actions to combat ocean acidification based on existing strategies to address climate change and related impacts in the City of Vancouver, British Columbia; City of Seattle, Washington; and City of Portland, Oregon.
  • Examples of best practices for using seagrass, kelp and mangroves as a tool to mitigate the impacts of ocean acidification and provide fuller ecosystem and economic benefits.
  • Recommendations for countries seeking to incorporate ocean acidification into Nationally Determined Commitments pursuant to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
  • Suggestions for ensuring robust stakeholder engagement in the development of OA Action Plans as responsive to the issues, opportunities, and influences of various regions.

Megan Plog, a SMEA student shared, “The specific project prompts provided by the OA Alliance were incredibly diverse and challenging. By working closely with the OA Alliance, we had the ability to better understand the creation and implementation of OA Action Plans, and why it is so vital that they be a pillar of coastal management and climate change mitigation.”

Students produced final reports and content that was substantial and thought provoking for how the OA Alliance can better support the development of OA Action Plans. Over the next few months the OA Alliance will be working to transform their projects into further tools and products for members to access and engage with.

As the student projects demonstrated, ocean acidification is a complex phenomenon that occurs alongside many other ecosystem stressors like hypoxia, loss of marine and coastal habitat, and ocean warming.  The good news is much work is already being done across the globe to better understand, mitigate and respond to its impacts.  Through increased and persistent collaboration across OA Alliance membership and subsequent collective networks, we will continue to refine, strengthen and scale efforts that protect the ocean and the communities that depend on it.