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Photo courtesy William Prego

This past June, researchers from the College of Arts, Sciences & Education joined experts and policy makers at Capitol Hill Ocean Week, an annual assembly in the nation’s capital to discuss ocean management issues. Throughout the week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed four bipartisan bills related to ocean acidification. Caused by an increase in carbon dioxide, it is raising the temperature of the ocean which impacts marine life.

The legislation now heads to the U.S. Senate. It establishes an advisory board to expand research and to work closely with coastal states. The bills also set up a data archive system to monitor the issue which is of particular concern to the communities and industries in Florida that depend on the state’s waterways for tourism and jobs.

Dean Mike Heithaus, who presented current and future research projects regarding conservation and ocean ecosystems in Capitol Hill, told South Florida Media Network,

“Oceans cover more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, and Capitol Hill Ocean Week is an opportunity to bring those who are focused on ocean issues to Washington to interact with federal agencies and members of Congress to gain more awareness for underwater ecosystems.”

Heithaus also added that FIU is playing a role in trying to slow and prevent sea level rise, which is a growing concern in South Florida.