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Mystic Aquarium researcher helps with effort to form blueprint to protect oceans from climate change

Lynde Point Lighthouse, or Saybrook Inner Lighthouse, near the mouth of the Connecticut River on Long Island Sound in Old Saybrook as Hurricane Henri downgraded to Tropical Storm Henri and dropped rain and wind in Old Saybrook, Connecticut August 22, 2021.
Joe Amon
Connecticut Public
Lynde Point Lighthouse, or Saybrook Inner Lighthouse, near the mouth of the Connecticut River on Long Island Sound in Old Saybrook.

More than 90 groups sent recommendations for a plan for ocean climate action to the Biden administration in June, National Ocean Month. Among those who helped draft the blueprint: Peter Auster, a senior research scientist at Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut.

The recommendations are geared toward reducing carbon emissions and increasing coastal resilience. Auster says one recommendation — advancing climate-ready fisheries — would help fish in Long Island Sound impacted by temperature change.

“Small changes in temperature can shift the interactions between pairs of species,” he said. “One might be more dominant at a lower temperature, or the other can be more dominant at a higher temperature."

And those changes, he said, can affect fish survival and growth.

The blueprint includes proposed policy items such as ending illegal and unregulated fishing, advancing marine-protected areas and evaluating ocean-based carbon dioxide removal. It notes that the ocean has the ability to reduce one-fifth of the emissions needed to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Auster said that there needs to be a local, state, national and international response to help people now and in the future with the climate crisis.

“We shouldn’t be thinking about ocean conservation apart from the wider conservation actions that we need to take in order to minimize and mitigate the effects of human activities on the globe,” he said.

Among President Biden’s Ocean 2030 ocean climate goals: reducing U.S. emissions by 50%, protecting 30% of the oceans and deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind.

The Ocean Policy Committee will now work with the White House Climate Policy Office to develop the full Ocean Climate Action Plan. It will also develop a national sustainable ocean plan to help guide sustainable economic development of U.S. ocean and coastal waters.

As Connecticut Public's state government reporter, Michayla focuses on how policy decisions directly impact the state’s communities and livelihoods. She has been with Connecticut Public since February 2022, and before that was a producer and host for audio news outlets around New York state. When not on deadline, Michayla is probably outside with her rescue dog, Elphie. Thoughts? Jokes? Tips? Email msavitt@ctpublic.org.

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