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Experts plan to discuss ocean acidification

A state task force set up to study ocean acidification is scheduled to meet Thursday for the first time, and the public is invited.

Members of the panel — including experts in climatology, marine fisheries, aquaculture and oceanography — will be on hand at Stony Brook University to discuss the panel’s mission to use science-based data to identify causes and ways to address what some say is an “emerging threat” to New York’s ecology and its water-based economy.

The ocean is becoming more acidic as it absorbs increased amounts of carbon dioxide, which decimated the shellfish industry in the Pacific Northwest a decade ago.

Ocean acidification is thought to harm corals, mollusks and other crustaceans, but its effects on the East Coast have not been studied.

“Ocean acidification, if not fully researched or understood, can have a potentially devastating impact on Long Island's commercial and recreational fishing industries, particularly shellfishing and its impact to the overall health of Long Island's coastal waters,” said Lori Severino, a spokeswoman for New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

New York's marine resources support nearly 350,000 jobs and generate billions of dollars through tourism, fishing and other industries, according to Severino. She said Long Island’s marine economy accounts for about 9.7 percent of its total gross domestic product.

The 14-member task force, created in 2016, will assess the impacts of ocean acidification and develop strategies to mitigate the effects.

The meeting is set for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Stony Brook's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Endeavour Hall.

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