As part of their United States of Climate Change series The Weather Channel has posted a story written by Lisa Stiffler (formerly with the Seattle PI) on the impacts of Ocean Acidification on the oyster industry, highlighting Taylor Shellfish Farms – Deaths of baby oysters in the Pacific Northwest are happening at an alarming rate because of increasing ocean acidification due to climate change. For shellfish farmers and the area that depends on them, it’s a more unwieldy foe than they’ve ever confronted.
Shellfish are an indicator species used as biomonitors of health in marine and estuarine environments. For decades, shellfish growers have advocated for research, regulation, and public education to preserve water quality and curb pollution (eg. pulp mill toxins, septic and livestock waste, stormwater runoff). But the new threat lapping at their shore is a much bigger, more unwieldy foe than they’ve ever confronted… ocean acidification. “We’ve been able to tell a story about it,” Bill Taylor said. “Most people are talking theory, but we’re talking about something that happens.”
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#acidification #carbonatechemistry #babyoysters #burkelator #pnw #canaryinthecoalmine #indicatorspecies #familybusiness
The The Nature Conservancy acknowledges the direct environmental benefits of farmed shellfish and believes shellfish aquaculture could save the planet!! “Aquaculture, particularly of shellfish and seaweed, is one area in which business and the environment are aligned. And creating more business opportunities for these types of aquaculture can actually benefit the environment. Farming these organisms takes “near zero input” — they require no land, freshwater, feed or fertilizers to produce. From an ecological standpoint, they just might be the closest thing to a “free lunch” that we can get.” Read full article here.
#freelunch #lowtide #oysterfarm #clamfarm #geoduckfarm #musselfarm #sustainable #localfood #responsiblefood #ilovemyjob #shucknjive
Facing Climate Change: Oyster Farmers
Kathleen Nisbet and her father, Dave, farm oysters in Washington’s Willapa Bay. They recently shifted some of their business to Hawai’i, after ocean acidification started killing baby oysters in local hatcheries.
Over the past 250 years, the world’s oceans have absorbed about 25 percent of the carbon dioxide that humans have put into the air by burning fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide lowers the pH of oceans, turning waters more acidic. The Northwest is home to some of the most corrosive waters on earth. Washington State in particular is an ocean acidification hotspot due to coastal upwelling that delivers cold water, low in pH and rich in carbon dioxide, from the deep ocean to its coasts. In Hawai’i, where coastal upwelling does not occur, the water is warmer and acidity is increasing less rapidly.
Ocean acidification makes it more difficult for oyster larvae and young oysters to grow and maintain their protective shells. Shells may even dissolve in increasingly acidic waters, leading to higher mortality in young oysters. Dave finds success in shipping baby oysters from Hawai’i and maturing them in Willapa Bay.
The Nisbet’s story may be unique, but they are not alone. Washington supports the most productive commercial shellfish operation on the West Coast, a multi-million dollar industry at risk. Yet the issue exceeds lost profits. Not all farmers can invest in warmer waters. Coastal tribes harvest wild shellfish for economic and subsistence uses. Healthy seas help build livelihoods in rural communities. So what next?
Under rising emissions scenarios, ocean acidity may increase 100 to 150 percent by the end of the century. In response, farmers are using new technologies to monitor the acidity levels of hatchery waters. Young scientists are devoting their careers to understanding risk and resilience. Former Washington Governor Gregoire formed a blue ribbon panel on ocean acidification and issued an Executive Order to implement key actions. Washington State is pioneering efforts to tackle ocean acidification so that its waters continue to serve as a source of prosperity and inspiration. We need all hands on deck.
Congratulations to Dillon McEdward, winner of $100 and the PCSGA’s June Ecosystem Services Photo Contest!!
His picture is of a large Stellar Sea Lion hauled out on a mussel rafts in Quilcene Bay, WA. Shellfish rafts play an accessory role as a safe haul out site for marine mammals, one which is away from beach disturbances and provides quick access to the water for feeding. Rafts also provide quick escape for sea lions and seals when orcas are present.
Submissions for the next photo contest are due on July 15th. The contest is open to the public. Find more information here: http://pcsga.org/ecosystems-services-photo-competition/ — at Quilcene Bay.
On Thursday, March 23, the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association (PCSGA) hosted a local tradition since 2001, the bi-annual Shellfish Industry Beach Cleanup. Local shellfish growers and the Department of Natural Resources collectively removed marine debris washed up along 120 miles of Puget Sound beaches. Sites included Eld, Totten, Henderson, Hammersley, Case, and Carr Inlets, Oakland Bay, and Squaxin, Harstine, McNeil, and Anderson Islands.
Trump proposal to slash Sea Grant would hurt seafood industry nationwide, Administrators calling on industry to lobby Congress.
Trump’s budget would wreak havoc on Puget Sound restoration. The recently released White House budget takes a deadly ax to the EPA and NOAA, and threatens to kill the National Estuary Program and federal funding for salmon recovery.