Tag Archives: fishing industry

Marine economy sinks as ocean acidity rises

Research has highlighted the negative effect acidification of oceans can have on marine life, but now fishing communities are waking up to the big threat it poses to their livelihoods. LONDON, 6 August, 2014 − The waters off the US state of Alaska are some of the best fishing grounds anywhere, teeming with salmon and with shellfish such as crab. But a new study, funded by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), says growing acidification of Alaska’s waters, particularly those off the southern coast, threatens the state’s whole economy − largely dependent on the fishing industry. The study, which appears in the journal Progress in Oceanography, says that not only will the state’s commercial fishing sector be badly hit by a growth in acidification, but it will also affect subsistence fisherpeople whose diet mainly consists of the catch from local waters.

Forming acid

The oceans act as a “carbon sink”, absorbing vast amounts of carbon dioxide. Acidification occurs when amounts of carbon dioxide are dissolved into seawater, where it forms carbonic acid. Scientists say the oceans are now 30% more acidic than they were at the beginning of the industrial revolution about 250 years ago. Among the sea species most vulnerable to acidification are shellfish, because a build-up of acid in waters prevents species developing their calcium shells. Alaska’s salmon stocks are also at risk as one of the main ingredients of a salmon diet are pteropods, small shell creatures. Jeremy Mathis, an NOAA oceanographer and a lead author of the study, told the Alaska Dispatch News that whereas past reports had focused on the consequences of increased acidification on ocean species, the aim of this one was designed to examine the wider economic impact. “This is an economic-social study,” Mathis said. “It focuses on food security, employment opportunity, and the size of the economy.” Mathis said acidification is more likely in Alaskan waters than in many other parts of the world. He explained: “It’s all about geography. The world’s ocean currents end their cycles here, depositing carbon dioxide from elsewhere. The coastal waters of Alaska sit right at the end of the ocean conveyor belt.” Elsewhere, acidification is already having a serious impact on fishing and shellfish industries.

Oysters dying

The New York Times reports that billions of baby oysters – known as spat – are dying off the coast of Washington state in the north-western US. In May this year, the US government’s major report on climate change, the National Climate Assessment, said that waters off the north-west of the country are among the world’s most acidic. Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington, says an industry worth US$270 million is at risk. “You can’t overstate what this means to Washington,” he says. Inslee and many others in Washington state are fighting plans by the coal industry to build large coal ports in the region in order to export to China and elsewhere in Asia. Climate scientists say greenhouse gas emissions resulting from coal burning are a main cause of global warming. − Climate News Network

Research has highlighted the negative effect acidification of oceans can have on marine life, but now fishing communities are waking up to the big threat it poses to their livelihoods. LONDON, 6 August, 2014 − The waters off the US state of Alaska are some of the best fishing grounds anywhere, teeming with salmon and with shellfish such as crab. But a new study, funded by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), says growing acidification of Alaska’s waters, particularly those off the southern coast, threatens the state’s whole economy − largely dependent on the fishing industry. The study, which appears in the journal Progress in Oceanography, says that not only will the state’s commercial fishing sector be badly hit by a growth in acidification, but it will also affect subsistence fisherpeople whose diet mainly consists of the catch from local waters.

Forming acid

The oceans act as a “carbon sink”, absorbing vast amounts of carbon dioxide. Acidification occurs when amounts of carbon dioxide are dissolved into seawater, where it forms carbonic acid. Scientists say the oceans are now 30% more acidic than they were at the beginning of the industrial revolution about 250 years ago. Among the sea species most vulnerable to acidification are shellfish, because a build-up of acid in waters prevents species developing their calcium shells. Alaska’s salmon stocks are also at risk as one of the main ingredients of a salmon diet are pteropods, small shell creatures. Jeremy Mathis, an NOAA oceanographer and a lead author of the study, told the Alaska Dispatch News that whereas past reports had focused on the consequences of increased acidification on ocean species, the aim of this one was designed to examine the wider economic impact. “This is an economic-social study,” Mathis said. “It focuses on food security, employment opportunity, and the size of the economy.” Mathis said acidification is more likely in Alaskan waters than in many other parts of the world. He explained: “It’s all about geography. The world’s ocean currents end their cycles here, depositing carbon dioxide from elsewhere. The coastal waters of Alaska sit right at the end of the ocean conveyor belt.” Elsewhere, acidification is already having a serious impact on fishing and shellfish industries.

Oysters dying

The New York Times reports that billions of baby oysters – known as spat – are dying off the coast of Washington state in the north-western US. In May this year, the US government’s major report on climate change, the National Climate Assessment, said that waters off the north-west of the country are among the world’s most acidic. Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington, says an industry worth US$270 million is at risk. “You can’t overstate what this means to Washington,” he says. Inslee and many others in Washington state are fighting plans by the coal industry to build large coal ports in the region in order to export to China and elsewhere in Asia. Climate scientists say greenhouse gas emissions resulting from coal burning are a main cause of global warming. − Climate News Network

Rising Acidity Threatens Squid

Embargoed until 2301 GMT Saturday 1 June Creature at centre of ocean ecosystem faces uncertain future as waters warm LONDON, 1 June – That jet-propelled cephalopod of the seas, the squid, could be in for a hard time. As atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rise, so the oceans become more acid, and this is not good news for one of the most important animals of the ocean ecosystem. Aran Mooney of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the US and other colleagues decided to take a look at what changing pH levels might do for the creature sometimes served up diced into rings, and fried, as calamari, or sometimes as the sauce in a pasta, cooked in its own ink. The researchers took both male and female longfin squid – a commercially-prized variety – from the waters of Vineyard Sound off the coast of Massachusetts and kept them in a laboratory tank until they mated. Some of the eggs were transferred to an experimental tank, some kept in existing seawater. Experiments One sample tank in effect “breathed” today’s air. The other was subjected to air enriched with higher carbon dioxide levels – dissolving as carbonic acid – until the tank water reached the higher acidity levels predicted 100 years from now. Then they noted how the baby squid developed. The scientists reported in the journal PLoS One that animals raised in the highly acidic water took longer to develop, were five per cent smaller on average, and some developed malformed statoliths – carbonate crystals that help the squid orient itself while swimming. Food chain “The fact that we found an impact in everything we measured was pretty astounding,” said Dr Mooney. “Squid are at the centre of the ocean ecosystem – nearly all animals are eating or eaten by squid. So if anything happens to these guys, it has repercussions up the food chain and down the food chain.” In 2011 US fishermen landed $100 million worth of squid: the creature is also food for tuna and hake, both commercially valuable catches. The next step in the research is to look at the effects of differing acidic levels and on the impact of changing sea temperatures.  Climate change isn’t the only challenge that confronts the creatures of the sea: overfishing and ocean pollution are also big and growing problems. But warm water fish can migrate to cooler temperatures, and have already begun to do so. Struggle to adapt Governments can regulate fish catches and establish marine reserves – and have begun to do so. But the research into the changing chemistry of the seas really is a voyage of discovery: animals evolved over millions of years to adapt very precisely to today’s conditions, and as they develop they quite literally fashion themselves with the materials in the sea water around them. Swift changes in ocean chemistry – and in evolutionary terms, a century is a very short time – could affect ocean ecosystems in unprecedented and unpredictable ways. – Climate News Network    

Embargoed until 2301 GMT Saturday 1 June Creature at centre of ocean ecosystem faces uncertain future as waters warm LONDON, 1 June – That jet-propelled cephalopod of the seas, the squid, could be in for a hard time. As atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rise, so the oceans become more acid, and this is not good news for one of the most important animals of the ocean ecosystem. Aran Mooney of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the US and other colleagues decided to take a look at what changing pH levels might do for the creature sometimes served up diced into rings, and fried, as calamari, or sometimes as the sauce in a pasta, cooked in its own ink. The researchers took both male and female longfin squid – a commercially-prized variety – from the waters of Vineyard Sound off the coast of Massachusetts and kept them in a laboratory tank until they mated. Some of the eggs were transferred to an experimental tank, some kept in existing seawater. Experiments One sample tank in effect “breathed” today’s air. The other was subjected to air enriched with higher carbon dioxide levels – dissolving as carbonic acid – until the tank water reached the higher acidity levels predicted 100 years from now. Then they noted how the baby squid developed. The scientists reported in the journal PLoS One that animals raised in the highly acidic water took longer to develop, were five per cent smaller on average, and some developed malformed statoliths – carbonate crystals that help the squid orient itself while swimming. Food chain “The fact that we found an impact in everything we measured was pretty astounding,” said Dr Mooney. “Squid are at the centre of the ocean ecosystem – nearly all animals are eating or eaten by squid. So if anything happens to these guys, it has repercussions up the food chain and down the food chain.” In 2011 US fishermen landed $100 million worth of squid: the creature is also food for tuna and hake, both commercially valuable catches. The next step in the research is to look at the effects of differing acidic levels and on the impact of changing sea temperatures.  Climate change isn’t the only challenge that confronts the creatures of the sea: overfishing and ocean pollution are also big and growing problems. But warm water fish can migrate to cooler temperatures, and have already begun to do so. Struggle to adapt Governments can regulate fish catches and establish marine reserves – and have begun to do so. But the research into the changing chemistry of the seas really is a voyage of discovery: animals evolved over millions of years to adapt very precisely to today’s conditions, and as they develop they quite literally fashion themselves with the materials in the sea water around them. Swift changes in ocean chemistry – and in evolutionary terms, a century is a very short time – could affect ocean ecosystems in unprecedented and unpredictable ways. – Climate News Network