Acidification in the Canadian Oceans: What is happening with our shellfish?
by ao1sc on October 7, 2016 - 11:00pm
Carbon emission is one of the biggest contributors to environmental impacts. Not only is it polluting our land and air but also our water, especially the ocean. For the past two centuries, anthropogenic carbon emission has been increasing constantly and studies show that approximately one-third is absorbed by the ocean. When carbon dioxide touches the surface of the ocean it dissolves and forms carbon acids that eventually decrease the pH level in the Ocean which will affect diverse marine livelihoods.
According to The Globe and Mail journalist, Daisy Xiong (2016), there has been some evidential changes to the fisheries in the West Coast of Canada due to ocean acidification. She stated that many seafood producers and restaurants are increasing their price for shellfish such as oysters, scallops and mussels, because it is affecting their health and their ability to procreate. This statement was supported by one of her interviewer, Colin Brauner, a professor of zoology at University of British Colombia. He explained that there are animals that can attune to the change in their environment; however, many cannot, and shellfish are one of the most delicate marine animals because of its shell. Shells consist calcium and carbonate; thus, as the ocean increases its acidity, it will become more difficult for them to survive. In addition, he clarified that West Coast has higher acidity because deeper water is usually more acidic. Therefore, these two reasons are causing a decrease in shellfish production.
I believe the purpose of this article is to make awareness of the impact that ocean acidification can have to the environment and also the economy as well. Shellfish has been among the West Coast’s most signature seafood stock and succeeded in the market for many years; however, the fact that shellfish is becoming scarce dwindles the industry’s growth, and influence the local economy. A great example was seen in 2015 when the Canadian health authorities banned raw oyster because there was a spread of bacteria in the ocean and people were experiencing illness. This compelling act brought negative impact to the industry because they could not sell or export their goods. Thus, as we learned in class, this resource management had a conflict of value between the government and the local communities: a conflict between human/environmental health and economic growth.
As from this past example, we can translate that environmental issues are strongly interconnected with other social issues; and therefore, even solving one problem, such as ocean acidification, is not at all simple. Indeed, government regulation and law legislation can ameliorate an issue in a short-run but there is always an uncertainty for managing resource. Will regulation and law be enough? Are there other alternatives for sustaining both environment and economy equally? Many questions are still waiting to be discussed and it is our mission to come to a better conclusion.
Xiong, D. (2016, Jan 11). Pacific shellfish set for price hike as ocean acidity keeps rising