Acidic ocean deadly for Vancouver Island scallop industry

 

CBC News

Posted: Feb 25, 2014 8:58 PM PT Last Updated: Feb 26, 2014 7:04 PM PT

High acidity levels in B.C.'s oceans mean millions of the shellfish die before they reach full maturity.

High acidity levels in B.C.’s oceans mean millions of the shellfish die before they reach full maturity.

The deteriorating health of B.C.’s oceans is impacting not only the province’s marine life, but also its economy.

 

Millions of shellfish are dying off before they can be harvested at Island Scallops, near Parksville, B.C., due to increased acidity levels in the ocean.

 

One-third of the workforce at Island Scallops — 20 people — are being laid off because the business has lost more than 10 million scallops before they were able to reach maturity since 2009.

 

“It’s obviously kicked our feet out from underneath us,” said CEO Rob Saunders.

 

Island Scallops

Island Scallops, near Parksville, B.C., is laying off 20 employees because high acidity in the oceans has meant the loss of millions of scallops.

 

He said low pH levels in the water appear to be the root of the problem.

 

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“Acidic Waters Kill 10 Million Scallops Off Vancouver”

 
By Kiley Kroh on February 26, 2014 at 11:16 am
 

 

A worker harvests oysters for Taylor Shellfish in Washington, another company grappling with the effects of ocean acidification.

A worker harvests oysters for Taylor Shellfish in Washington, another company grappling with the effects of ocean acidification.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File

 

A mass die-off of scallops near Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island is being linked to the increasingly acidic waters that are threatening marine life and aquatic industries along the West Coast.

 

Rob Saunders, CEO of Island Scallops, estimates his company has lost three years worth of scallops and $10 million dollars — forcing him to lay off approximately one-third of his staff.

 

“I’m not sure we are going to stay alive and I’m not sure the oyster industry is going to stay alive,” Saunders told The Parksville Qualicum Beach NEWS. “It’s that dramatic.”

Ocean acidification, often referred to as global warming’s “evil twin,” threatens to upend the delicate balance of marine life across the globe.

 

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Struggling shellfish farmers eye genomic research

Industry looks for answers to cope with rising carbon dioxide levels, increased acidity

 
 
 
Struggling shellfish farmers eye genomic research
 

High acidity is being blamed for a mass die-off of B.C. scallops.

Shellfish farmers are appealing to the federal and provincial governments to support genomic research in an effort identify oysters, mussels and scallops suited to withstand the west coast’s rapidly changing marine environment.

Oyster and scallop farmers from Oregon right up the coast of British Columbia are experiencing massive die-offs of animals associated with rising carbon dioxide levels and increasing acidity in local waters.

“We’ve been aware of these problems for quite a while and we just have to learn to operate our farms under new parameters,” said Roberta Stevenson, executive director of the B.C. Shellfish Growers Association. “Genomics offers us an opportunity to develop an animal that is more capable of adapting to this new pH level.”

Shellfish farms employ about 1,000 people in mostly rural parts of the coast and generate about $33 million in sales each year, Stevenson said.

 

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