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Conservationists Say Plankton Growth Threatened By Ocean Acidity

A conservation group says the Pacific and Atlantic oceans are absorbing too much carbon from excessive greenhouse gas emissions. The organization wants California and other west coast states to use the federal Clean Water Act to protect the waters off their coasts. KPBS reporter Ed Joyce has details.

The Center for Biological Diversity says acidification is changing the chemistry of the world's oceans. The group says the oceans are absorbing excess carbon dioxide produced by humans, which makes sea water more acidic.

Brendan Cummings is the center's oceans program director. He says the acidity hurts the growth of plankton -- a key player in the ocean food chain.

Cummings : Without phytoplankton in the abundant numbers we have now, marine life which relies upon it, which is the building block of the oceanic food webs, starts to decline.

He says higher acidity could affect the growth of shellfish and remove food sources for several salmon species. Cummings says ocean waters should be listed as impaired under the federal Clean Water Act.

He says if that happens, California and other states would be required to limit carbon dioxide pollution from entering ocean waters under their jurisdiction.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

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