Two of South Florida’s U.S House of Representatives mates, Reps Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, cite the need to overcome ocean acidification in a recently published op-ed in the Miami Herald. Both Republicans represent districts “defined by the waters around them” which offer locals and tourists alike “world-famous beaches, delicious seafood, incomparable fishing, boating, and sailing, spectacular marine life, and cultural connections to the Caribbean.”

“Our coastal waters are facing tremendous challenges from continuing pollution and water quality issues, and now from ocean acidification as well,” they write. “Ocean acidification occurs when carbon dioxide is absorbed by seawater and the resultant chemical reactions increase the concentration of hydrogen ions in the water, making it more acidic.” Increased carbon dioxide emissions contribute to ocean acidification, which in turn exacerbates climate change. Ocean acidification has already disrupted the shellfish industry in the U.S., and according to Curbelo and Ros-Lehtinen, its impacts on species and coral reefs “can ripple out to touch all our lives.”

The two House members point out that “a clean, healthy and productive ocean has always been a foundational pillar of Florida’s economy.” The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that tourism, recreation and fishing related to South Florida’s coral reefs generates more than $4.4 billion in local sales and $2 billion in local income. Curbelo and Ros-Lehtinen are cosponsors of the bipartisan Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act, which would conduct vulnerability assessments of U.S. coastal communities, and both are members of the Climate Solutions Caucus.