environmental changes in the ocean and the political and economic realities that such efforts would encounter.
The introduction to this Theme is well written and, in keeping with the FOARAM mandate, this section rightly highlights the linkages between increasing acidification and potential impacts on the provision of ecosystem goods and services that include, for example, fisheries production, recreation, and conservation of marine organisms and ecosystems. The introduction also correctly points out the importance of recognizing the projected rate of changes in ocean chemistry, and the potential severity of the socioeconomic impacts that might result as a consequence. However, the introduction makes very little reference to the need to develop “adaptation and mitigation strategies to conserve marine organisms and marine ecosystems” as specified in the FOARAM Act. The introduction would also benefit from discussing how ocean acidification takes place in the context of other human induced changes in the ocean, such as climate change, overfishing, and marine pollution.
The committee also supports the idea presented in this Theme that socioeconomic outcomes are one possible method of prioritizing the natural science research on ocean acidification (e.g., by emphasizing research on the impacts on commercially important species or species listed under the Endangered Species Act). The discussion, however, could be strengthened by providing an example of the process that could be used for priority setting, such as a ‘value of information’ study (e.g., Costello et al., 1998).
The issue of prioritization also arises in another critical context, where the committee believes re-evaluation and improvements of the Strategic Plan are warranted. In the introduction to Theme 5, it is stated that, “[t]o some extent, socioeconomic research must follow research in the natural sciences.” For the reasons discussed below, we find this statement to be incorrect or at the very least potentially misleading. The statement can potentially be misconstrued to mean that initiating socioeconomic research at this time is not necessary or less urgent. The committee disagrees with such an interpretation because investments in long-term data collection and studies that will be used in measuring impacts need to begin now. Specifically, to improve modeling, impact, and adaptation studies in the future, social scientists need to be incentivized to develop time series and data networks that can then link the natural sciences questions with the social and economic sciences questions. This presents another rationale for strong integration across Themes 3, 5, and 7. The committee believes that it would be unwise to wait for impacts to happen, or for the probability of them occurring to reach some threshold, before starting this research. For example, the U.S. could currently be increasing its investments in socioeconomic research to assess the benefits to the nation from ocean