In a report this week in Nature Climate Change, the first nationwide vulnerability assessment for ocean acidification revealed a substantial threat to coastal communities tied to the seafood industry.
The report specifically identifies the threat across 15 states with economies tied to what is roughly a $1 billion shelled mollusk (oysters and clams) industry. Those states with communities most at risk are: CA, CT, FL, LA, MA, ME, MD, NC, NJ, NY, OR, RI, TX, VA, & WA.
Previous data seemed to indicate that the risk was confined to communities in the Pacific Northwest. This new report shows that the overall threat and financial impact is much more wide-spread.
“Ocean acidification has already cost the oyster industry in the Pacific Northwest nearly $110 million, and jeopardized about 3,200 jobs,” said Julia Ekstrom, who was lead author of the research while a scientist with Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and now is at University of California at Davis.
“Our research shows, for the first time, that many communities around the U.S. face similar risks.”
The problem is a result of oceans absorbing the growing amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and thereby become more acidic. The higher levels of acid make it more difficult for creatures with calcium carbonate shells or skeletons, including mollusks, crabs, and corals, to grow their shells and survive.
“Our analysis shows acidification will harm more than ocean creatures; it will have real impacts on people’s lives,” said Lisa Suatoni, senior scientist, NRDC Oceans Program. “It will pinch pocketbooks, it will put livelihoods at risk, and it will alter the fabric of communities all across the country.”
Anyone interested can read the full report at: http://www.nrdc.org/oceans/acidification/state-vulnerability.asp.