Dealing With the Threat of Ocean Acidification

Posted on IAEA: 12 Jun 2014 — IAEA Contributes to Wide-Ranging Sustainability Publication


Ocean acidification has implications for many calcifying organisms, such as corals, oysters, mussels and many species of plankton, as shell production may become energetically more expensive and pH conditions more stressful metabolically. (Photo: J. Teyss)

 Ocean acidification (OA) could cost the world billions, and will most assuredly have a devastating impact on some marine species, especially those with shells and those near the bottom of marine food webs. The economic implications have already become apparent in some areas, like Washington State, USA, where OA almost decimated oyster farming from 2005 to 2009 until corrective actions were taken.

The IAEA’s contribution to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) publication (How Oceans- and Seas-related Measures Contribute to the Economic, Social and Environmental Dimensions of Sustainable Development) focuses on the many actions and initiatives that led to a turnaround for the Washington State oyster industry in the face of OA.

This UNDESA electronic publication maintains the momentum of the Rio+20 Conference in 2012 with almost a dozen local and regional case studies like the Pacific Northwest’s oyster die-off; cases that are symptomatic of the pressures and stresses facing our oceans, and which affect not just marine but human life as well.

Calling the state of the oceans “alarming”, Nikhil Seth, Director of UNDESA’s Division for Sustainable Development, said in his Foreword that “The present e-publication is a contribution to a growing collection of studies on how to conserve and sustainably manage the resources of the oceans and seas to foster sustainable development.”

It is hoped that the publication will inform on-going discussions in the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals and inform the upcomingThird International Conference on Small Island Developing States from 1 to 4 September 2014 in Apia, Samoa.

Learn more about the IAEA’s work tackling ocean acidification here.


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