Date: March 29, 2019

TOF Contact:
Mark J. Spalding, President.
Jason Donofrio, External Relations Officer;

AnnouncingOcean Acidification Training for the Senate of Mexico; Commission on the Environment, Natural Resources & Climate Change

Senate of the Republic; Mexico City, Mexico  –  On March 29th, The Ocean Foundation (TOF) will conduct a training workshop for the elected leaders of the Mexican Senate’s Commission on the Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change to help understand the devastating effects ocean acidification (OA) is creating, and the action steps they can take to help address it.  The Commission is chaired by Senator Eduardo Murat Hinojosa and its members are comprised of Senators from a broad swath of political constituencies.

Last month (Feb. 21), TOF was invited to meet with Josefa González Blanco Ortiz-Mena, the head of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), which focused on identifying a common strategy to deal with OA and protected natural marine areas in Mexico.   In addition, TOF also met with Chairman Murat Hinojosa, who chairs the Commission on the Environment, Natural Resources & Climate Change, who has now invited TOF to conduct a workshop for their members that will focus on addressing OA.

The goal of this workshop is to equip the leaders of Mexico with the tools, knowledge and resources necessary to address the effects of OA locally, as part of a larger international coalition to combat this crisis globally. The workshop participation by the legislative branch of the Mexican Government demonstrates the growing commitment to combat this worldwide problem. “There is an urgent need to build resilience against ocean acidification to protect the marine biodiversity on which we depend on for food, development and recreation,” says Mark J. Spalding, President of The Ocean Foundation.

When: 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM, Friday, March 29, 2019
Where: Senate of the Republic; Mexico City, Mexico
Workshop Overview:  Three topics presented followed by Q&A, with one topic per hour.

  • Introduction of the Science of Ocean Acidification for Policy Makers
  • The Societal Cost Context of Ocean Acidification
  • Policy Responses to Ocean Acidification

Dr. Martín Hernández Ayón
Investigador del Instituto de Investigaciones Oceanólogicas
Universidad Autonoma de Baja California

María Alejandra Navarrete Hernández
International Legal Advisor, Mexico, The Ocean Foundation

Mark J. Spalding
President, The Ocean Foundation

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About The Ocean Foundation (TOF): 
The Ocean Foundation is a community foundation that aims to support and promote those organizations dedicated to reversing the trend of the destruction of the ocean environments around the world.

TOF works with a community of donors who care about the coasts and ocean to help align their interests with local needs. The foundation works to support marine conservation in order to promote healthy ocean ecosystems and benefit the human communities that depend on them.  TOF does this by increasing the capacity of conservation organizations, hosting projects and funds, and supporting those working to improve the health of ocean species globally by raising millions of dollars each year to support these efforts.  TOF carries out this mission through five lines of business: fiscal sponsorship fund services, grantmaking funds, green resort partnerships, committee and donor advised funds, and consulting services, in addition to their own programmatic initiatives.

What is Ocean Acidification (OA)?
OA is defined as the ongoing decrease in the pH levels of Earth’s ocean, caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.  The effects of OA are having a devastating impact on the marine food chain, sending rippling effects on the global marketplace, in addition to the threat it places on sensitive ecosystems on which human life depends.

From the shallows to the deeps of our great ocean, a crisis is occurring. As CO2 dissolves into the ocean, it alters its chemistry – the ocean is 30% more acidic than it was 200 years ago, and it is acidifying faster than at any time in Earth’s history.  OA may be invisible but sadly its impacts are not. From shellfish and coral, to fish and sharks, the animals of the ocean and the communities that depend on them, are under threat.   When carbon dioxide (CO2) mixes with water molecule (H2O) it forms carbonic acid (H2CO3) that then breaks down easily into hydrogen ions (H+) and bicarbonate (HCO3-), those available hydrogen ions bond with other carbonate ions to form more bicarbonate.  The result is that marine organisms who possess shells, such as mollusks, crustaceans, corals, and coralline algae, must expend more and more energy to retrieve or create the carbonate ions necessary to form the calcium carbonate (CaCO3) that comprises their shells.  In other words, OA is robbing these organisms of their necessary building blocks for their growth and survival, which in turn threatens our entire global ecosystem.

TOF has been fighting OA since 2003, employing a four-part approach that addresses the issue from all angles:

1.)  Monitor:  How, where, and how quickly is change occurring?
2.)  Analyze: How are we being affected now, and how will we be affected in the future?
3.)  Engage: Building partnerships and coalitions with stakeholders globally
4.) Act: Enacting legislation that mitigates ocean acidification and helps communities adapt

About the Commission on the Environment, Natural Resources & Climate Change: Commission of the Legislative Branch of Mexico
The Commission’s stated mission is the protection of the Mexico’s natural resources and ecosystem by “addressing the gaps, contradictions and deficiencies existing in national legislation in forestry, water, waste, climate change, biodiversity, sustainable urban development and environmental justice, among others, seeking the effectiveness in their application and the establishment of the bases legal requirements for the design of the best public policies on environmental matters for Mexico.”

In an effort to comply with national goals as well as international objectives, such as the Paris Agreement, the Commission is focused on the following four legislative priorities:

  • Promote more effective public actions and policies
  • Protect the natural capital and the quality of life of Mexicans
  • Mitigate the negative effects of climate change
  • Contribute to the balance between development and the sustainable use of natural resources

About SEMARNAT: Secretariat of the Executive Branch of Mexico 
The Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) is Mexico’s environmental ministry and is tasked with the protection, restoration and conservation of the ecosystems, natural resources, environmental services and assets of Mexico.  SEMARNAT works to foster sustainable development and protect natural habitats across the country.   Current initiatives include legislation to combat climate change and to protect the ozone layer, direct studies on national meteorological and geo-hydrological systems, the regulation and monitoring of streams, lakes, lagoons and protected watersheds, and most recently, efforts to understand and address the devastating effects of OA.


About the Presenters: 

Dr. José Martín Hernández-Ayón
Oceanographer. School of Marine Sciences of the Autonomous University of Baja California  

Oceanographer with doctoral studies in Coastal Oceanography at the School of Marine Sciences of the Autonomous University of Baja California and postdoctoral fellow at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California. Dr. Hernandez is a Specialist on the Carbon Dioxide System in seawater and marine biogeochemistry. His research has focused on studying the role of coastal zones in the carbon cycle, including the effect of ocean acidification (OA) on marine ecosystems and the relationship of OA with other stress factors such as hypoxia, change climate change and CO2 flows in coastal regions. It is part of the scientific committee of the IMECOCAL Program (Mexican Research of the Current of California), he is a member of the Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON), is a representative of the Surface Ocean Lower Atmosphere Study (SOLAS) in Mexico, serves as Scientific Advisor of the Mexican Carbon Program (PMC), and is the Co-Chair of the Latin American Ocean Acidification Studies Network (LAOCA)

María Alejandra Navarrete Hernández
International Legal Advisor, Mexico, The Ocean Foundation

Alejandra has been working in the national and international environmental law field since 1992. She has experience in working side-by-side with Ministers and the office of the President of Mexico, including in the creation and enactment of several national presidential commissions such as the “Commission on Climate Change and the Seas and Coasts.” She was most recently, the National Project Coordinator for the Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosystem, a GEF Project “Implementation of the Strategic Action Program for the GOM LME,” between Mexico and US. She moved into this lead role after serving as the legal and public policy expert for the “Integrated assessment and management of the Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosystem.” In 2012, she was consultant for UNEP for the UNDAF review and drafted as coauthor the “National Environmental Summary 2008-2012 for Mexico.”

Mark J. Spalding
President, The Ocean Foundation
Mark is a member of the Ocean Studies Board of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (US). He is serving on the Sargasso Sea Commission. Mark is a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Blue Economy at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.  In addition, he serves as the advisor to the Rockefeller Ocean Strategy (an unprecedented ocean-centric investment fund) and is a member of the Pool of Experts for the UN World Ocean Assessment.  Mark is an expert on international environmental policy and law, ocean policy and law, and coastal and marine philanthropy. He designed the first-ever blue carbon offset program, SeaGrass Grow.  His current research projects include the protection of marine mammals and conservation of their habitat, financing blue carbon and strategies to expand the blue economy by increasing the incentives for, and removing barriers to, sustainable aquaculture, reduction of ocean noise pollution, tourism sustainability, and mitigation of, and adaptation to, ocean acidification and the interactions between climate disruption and the ocean.

For more information please contact The Ocean Foundation:
Jason Donofrio
External Relations Officer
[email protected]

Download press release in English & Spanish.