New bill hopes prize money will help find a solution to ocean acidification

By: David Ham


Rep. Derek Kilmer introduced the Ocean Acidification Innovation Act, a bill that would offer prize money to researchers who find a solution to carbon dioxide dissolving into the ocean.

"The way we're addressing this is trying to get more research attention on monitoring and addressing the situation of ocean acidification," said Rep. Derek Kilmer D-6th District.

Kilmer says ocean acidification is a huge threat to the state's $250 million shellfish industry.

He wants federal money to be leveraged into more minds working on a solution to saving the dying shellfish.

"What we found is you can provide a $5 million research grant for a researcher to go solve a problem or you can provide a prize.

There’s a four to 10 times leverage so you get $20 million to $50 million of research out of the $5 million investment," said Kilmer.

Pete Knutson owns Loki Fish Company.

He's been a fisherman for 43 years and says ocean acidification is also a serious threat to the state's salmon fishing industry.

"A lot of feed of the salmon pink salmon in particular that feed on tiny little microorganisms called sea butterflies and they have calcium carbonate shells which are going to be vulnerable to acidification," Knutson added, "If you have acidic water it's going to make it hard for all the ocean organisms to have a hard shells to survive."

Kilmer said the bill has bipartisan support. He is trying to gather more support for the legislation in the House.

Kilmer's staffer could not say how much prize money would be up for grabs, adding it would be up to federal agencies to decide.

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