Ocean Currents » scallops http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Wed, 07 Dec 2016 16:44:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 An Ounce of Prevention is Worth Tons of Future Harvests http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/24/an-ounce-of-prevention-is-worth-tons-of-future-harvests/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/24/an-ounce-of-prevention-is-worth-tons-of-future-harvests/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:00:53 +0000 Sarah Cooley http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9381 fishermen load scallops onto a boat

“Ocean acidification is a pocketbook issue here. It’s about dollars and cents and jobs,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell in Massachusetts at Monday’s conference on Ocean Acidification and Southern New England. Organized by the Woods Hole Research Center, this workshop brought together fishermen, planners, ocean acidification experts, and policymakers to jumpstart action on ocean acidification. Mayor Mitchell noted, “There is no more appropriate place to discuss ocean acidification” than in New Bedford, where smart fisheries management has led to a scallop boom.  In fact, the city is the sea scallop harvest capital of the U.S. and its port consistently brings in the highest commercial fishery revenue in the country each year.

The workshop began reviewing the science of ocean acidification as it relates to Massachusetts’ oceanography and fisheries. There’s still a lot to learn, particularly about how iconic fisheries like sea scallops and lobster respond to ocean acidification.  But it’s clear that there is a lot to be worried about in New England. Seawater acidity is greater in these waters today than it was 35 years ago.

Folks closely affiliated with the sea scallop, oyster, lobster, and other fisheries spoke about the multiple environmental challenges they face, from coastal pollution that results in harmful algal blooms, to ocean acidification and warming. Fortunately, ocean acidification hasn’t caused measurable losses to New England fisheries yet, as it has in the Pacific Northwest with the oyster industry. But it’s clear that decision-makers in Massachusetts are starting to sit up and pay attention.

Representatives of Massachusetts state agencies, nonprofit organizations, and NOAA, joined by State Reps. William Straus (D-Mattapoisett) and Timothy Madden (D-Nantucket) highlighted new opportunities and many existing initiatives that can help partially address ocean acidification. The state already has goals to reduce carbon dioxide emissions statewide and decrease land-based pollution flowing into waterways.

Attendees generally seemed to favor convening a statewide study panel, such as those in Washington State, Maine, and Maryland, to assess how Massachusetts’ existing goals might expand to address ocean acidification concerns and the additional knowledge that is needed. Certainly, there is a great deal of interest in taking preventive action against ocean acidification in Massachusetts, to protect this state’s valuable and iconic fisheries and the communities and people that depend on them.

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Scallops Feel Acidification’s Impact; Lessons to Be Learned From Oyster Growers http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/02/26/scallops-feel-acidifications-impact-lessons-to-be-learned-from-oyster-growers/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/02/26/scallops-feel-acidifications-impact-lessons-to-be-learned-from-oyster-growers/#comments Wed, 26 Feb 2014 23:06:11 +0000 Julia Roberson http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=7597

Photo: Rita Leistner/Ocean Conservancy

The Internet is buzzing: A scallop farming business in British Columbia, Canada, has lost $10 million and 10 million scallops because of ocean acidification. Island Scallops’ CEO Rob Saunders’ despair came through crystal clear in his quotes: “I’m not sure we’re going to make it,” and “[Acidification] has really kicked the hell out of us.”

Saunders has been in the business for 35 years and has never seen anything like this. This is a shocking story for many – corrosive water because of carbon pollution single-handedly destroying a scallop business? It sounds eerily familiar to what Pacific Northwest hatchery owners in Washington and Oregon experienced in 2007 and 2008, when oyster larvae were dying by the billions. Whiskey Creek Hatchery and Taylor Shellfish Farms lost nearly 80 percent of their businesses due to increasingly acidic water.

Things seemed hopeless in the Pacific Northwest until scientists and researchers at Oregon State University worked together to monitor the acidity of the water that the hatcheries were drawing in to their tanks. They were able to make adjustments to their operations that have allowed them to stay in business, and ultimately, thrive. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., was critical to the effort, earmarking much-needed funds for monitoring and research. This collective effort to tackle OA led to the first-ever initiative to address acidification in the state, including the establishment of a new acidification research center at the University of Washington. Washington’s model is being emulated by other states like Maine.

This story of success is critical to Saunders’ experience. His operation and farm is very different from those of the oyster growers, but are there lessons that can be learned? The oyster growers in the Pacific Northwest have sounded the alarm that acidification is threatening their businesses and livelihoods. They were instrumental in bringing attention to this issue. An early-warning system for acidification has enabled them to stay in business. Is there a similar solution that would help Saunders’ business and other scallop farmers? Would a significant investment in an early-warning system for British Columbia be a game changer for these businesses that rely on a healthy ocean?

I am optimistic because of the great model we have from the Pacific Northwest (and because scallops are tied with oysters as quite possibly my favorite food). Ocean acidification is a big issue. It’s daunting. More stories like Saunders’ will come out in the future. But armed with the knowledge that rural communities and livelihoods are suffering as a result of what we are doing to the ocean, we have a responsibility to speak up, to get funding for cutting-edge research and monitoring, and to stop talking about this issue as if it’s hopeless. States and oyster growers have shown that action on acidification is possible.

These collective local solutions can add up to something big, but that doesn’t mean we can stop pushing for more action on the national level. The federal government currently budgets only $6 million a year for ocean acidification research. We’ve launched an online petition calling on Congress to double its research funding this year to help deepen our scientific understanding of this problem and protect thousands of jobs through awareness and adaptation. The appropriations deadline is coming up fast (March 31), so tell your elected officials to act now.

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