Quantcast

VIDEO: Facing Climate Change—How Ocean Acidification is Impacting Oyster Farmers

Climate

Facing Climate Change

By Benjamin Drummond and Sara Joy Steele

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.

Visit EcoWatch’s CLIMATE CHANGE page for more related news on this topic.

——–

Click here to tell Congress to Expedite Renewable Energy.

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Artist's conception of solar islands in the open ocean. PNAS

Millions of solar panels clustered together to form an island could convert carbon dioxide in seawater into methanol, which can fuel airplanes and trucks, according to new research from Norway and Switzerland and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, PNAS, as NBC News reported. The floating islands could drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels.

Read More Show Less
Marcos Alves / Moment Open / Getty Images

More than 40 percent of insects could go extinct globally in the next few decades. So why did the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week ok the 'emergency' use of the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor on 13.9 million acres?

EcoWatch teamed up with Center for Biological Diversity via EcoWatch Live on Facebook to find out why. Environmental Health Director and Senior Attorney Lori Ann Burd explained how there is a loophole in the The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act under section 18, "that allows for entities and states to request emergency exemptions to spraying pesticides where they otherwise wouldn't be allowed to spray."

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Zero Waste Kitchen Essentials

Simple swaps that cut down on kitchen trash.

Sponsored

By Kayla Robbins

Along with the bathroom, the kitchen is one of the most daunting areas to try and make zero waste.

Read More Show Less
View of downtown Miami, Florida from Hobie Island on Feb. 2, 2019. Michael Muraz / Flickr

The Democratic candidates for president descended upon Miami for a two-night debate on Wednesday and Thursday. Any candidate hoping to carry the state will have to make the climate crisis central to their campaign, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
A pumpjack in the Permian Basin. blake.thornberry / Flickr

By Sharon Kelly

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal featured a profile of Scott Sheffield, CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources, whose company is known among investors for its emphasis on drawing oil and gas from the Permian basin in Texas using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pexels

By Craig K. Chandler

The federal government has available to it, should it choose to use them, a wide range of potential climate change management tools, going well beyond the traditional pollution control regulatory options. And, in some cases (not all), without new legislative authorization.

Read More Show Less
Denis Poroy / Getty Images

By Dan Gray

Processed foods, in their many delicious forms, are an American favorite.

But new research shows that despite increasing evidence on just how unhealthy processed foods are, Americans have continued to eat the products at the same rate.

Read More Show Less

By Sarah Steffen

With a profound understanding of their environmental surroundings, indigenous communities around the world are often cited as being pivotal to tackling climate change.

Read More Show Less