New study calls for joint effort to address ocean acidification problem

A new study shows that ocean acidification is a global problem with profoundly negative environmental, social and economic consequences. Researchers call for a coordinated effort to address the problem – and points to Norway as a good example on how to combat ocean acidification.

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In the newly released Marine Policy article “European policies and legislation targeting ocean acidification in European waters - Current state”, researchers review 90 legislative documents from 17 countries from the European Economic Area (EEA) and the UK that primarily border the sea. The primary finding is that the European national policies and legislation addressing ocean acidification is at best uncoordinated. Although ocean acidification is acknowledged at the higher levels of governance, its status as an environmental challenge is greatly diluted at the European Union Member State level. 

As a notable exception within the EEA, Norway seems to have a proactive approach towards legislative frameworks and research aimed towards further understanding ocean acidification. 

“Unlike other countries, the state of ocean acidification and its impacts on the marine environment are frequently referred to by Norwegian climate related policies. In fact, the country has committed itself to several international treaties and programs that address ocean acidification,” says NIVA researcher Wenting Chen, one of the co-authors of the study. 

The study shows that Norway has the highest score comparing to other European countries in terms of “Potential effectiveness of policies and legislative frameworks to abate ocean acidification”.

“However, while Norway comes out strong in this comparative analysis of European policies and legislation, there is a long way to go before ocean acidification is sufficiently integrated in marine and coastal management and policy,” says Professor Richard Bellerby, Chief Scientist Climate and Oceans at NIVA and co-author of the study. 

“Understanding of the pressing challenges due to ocean acidification is generally poor amongst stakeholders and managers. Crucially, our current knowledge of ocean acidification is based on the monitoring of a few selected regions that do not represent the complexity of Norwegian marine and coastal systems and the ecosystem goods and services they support,” says Professor Bellerby.

In the study, the researchers argue that the problems associated with ocean acidification and the solutions needed to address it, are unique and cannot be bundled together with traditional climate change responses and measures.

“Therefore, European ocean acidification-related policy and legislation must reflect this and tailor their actions to mitigate ocean acidification to safeguard marine ecosystems and societies. A stronger and more coordinated approach is needed to build environmental, economic and social resilience of the observed and anticipated changes to the coastal marine systems,” Professor Bellerby says.


Charles Galdies, et al. (2020) European policies and legislation targeting ocean acidification in european waters - Current state. Marine Policy. Volume 118, August 2020, 103947.

Last updated 08.06.2020