California is exploring local and regional management strategies to address ocean acidification (OA). In early 2016, the West Coast OA and Hypoxia Science Panel recommended that states advance approaches that remove CO2 from seawater, including making use of photosynthesizing plants in coastal environments. In addition, recent legislation in California (Senate Bill No. 1363, Monning, 2016) calls for scientific approaches to protect and restore eelgrass beds as a critical strategy in enhancing California’s ability to withstand OA.

Coastal and estuarine plants, or submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), have the potential to uptake carbon and modify pH within their canopy and surrounding waters. These habitats may potentially provide natural OA refugia to surrounding species, as well as many additional ecosystem services (carbon sequestration, essential fish habitat, shoreline buffering, water quality, biodiversity, etc.). On the West Coast, two dominant SAV habitats, seagrasses and kelps, show promise in their capacity to ameliorate OA on local scales, and are under active investigation in coastal regions of California, Oregon, and Washington.

As California considers nature-based adaptation strategies, the State is challenged with identifying when, where, and conditions under which SAV restoration and protection can most successfully be applied to ameliorate OA.



Project timeline: December 2016 – June 2017

To assist the State with synthesizing knowledge on the West Coast and prioritizing next steps for California, the Ocean Science Trust will convene a working group of the Ocean Protection Council Science Advisory Team (OPC-SAT).

The working group will provide guidance on:

  • Current approaches to evaluate and quantify amelioration potential
  • Scaling up existing demonstration projects
  • Existing efforts and their ability to inform management and policy in California
  • Understanding the impacts of future climate stressors on the amelioration potential of SAV


Project leaders

Hayley Carter / California Ocean Science Trust, San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival

Project collaborators

Sarah Wheeler / California Oean Science Tust
Karina Nielsen / Romberg Tiburon Center, San Francisco State University