Rising levels of acidity in the ocean and growing areas of low-oxygen waters are a “double whammy” threat to fishing industries, ecosystems and economies along the West Coast and British Columbia, according to a new report.
The report was issued by a panel of experts that includes scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
According to the panel, ocean acidification is already affecting the region’s oyster hatcheries and the ability of sea snails — an important food for salmon and herring — to build and maintain their shells, according to NOAA.
As ocean acidification intensifies due to increasing carbon dioxide emissions, a range of shellfish industries producing oysters, mussels and crabs might be subject to significant economic losses.
In addition, warming waters and nutrient runoff from land are resulting in more occurrences of low dissolved oxygen (hypoxia), which kill fish or force them to other places.
“The sea changes we’re seeing on the West Coast are not isolated. Other coastal areas across the nation and world are experiencing first-hand the local consequences of global climate change,” NOAA chief scientist Rick Spinrad said in a statement. “I applaud this bi-national panel’s commitment to work across state and national boundaries to help our fishing industries — and the communities that rely on them — become more resilient.”
The study, conducted by the 20-member West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel, includes a plan to help coastal communities lessen their exposure to these challenges and boost their resilience to future changes.