Acidification may hurt local shellfish




Ocean acidification may be causing problems for shellfish producers on the northwest coast, says Brian Kingzett, the deep-bay field station manager for the Centre for Shellfish Research at Vancouver Island University.

Over the past few years, operations in Washington and Oregon have had difficult getting shellfish larvae to grow.

This problem may be due to global warming and increasing C02 in the atmosphere, said Kingzett.

Although it wasn’t clear whether this issue extended north to B.C., VIU’s shellfish research centre now believes it could be the cause of some problems in Vancouver Island hatcheries as well.

“It’s an indicator of a really significant global problem,” said Kingzett.

Ocean acidification creates a corrosive environment for organisms such as plankton, coral and shellfish, which build carbonate shells or skeletons.

The research centre is monitoring changes in Baynes Sound and are in the process of installing two monitoring units to watch dissolved oxygen, salinity, temperature and PH levels of the water.

“The ocean is not absorbing but degassing,” says Island Scallops CEO Rob Saunders. “Deep waters are ‘burping’ CO2 and contributing to atmospheric contraction.

“Unless we remove the CO2 from the ocean water and bring it back to suitable atmospheric conditions, we can’t grow scallops, and that’s the same for oysters, gooey ducks, algae and wolf eels.”

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