Ocean Acidification and AMCC’s Report ‘Views and Voices of Alaska’s Fishermen, Marine Industries and Coastal Residents’
This past winter Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC) sponsored community roundtable discussions about ocean acidification in key fishing communities across Alaska. AMCC designed their roundtable discussion to accomplish three goals: 1) bring together the efforts and expertise of scientists, subsistence harvesters, commercial fishermen, natural resources managers and coastal residents to better assess and address the affects of ocean acidification on local fisheries and livelihoods; 2) develop ideas and advance dialogue concerning the needs and potential contributions of fishermen and fishing communities in responding to the threat posed by ocean acidification; and 3) provide insight into how the fishing industry might engage in policy action related to ocean acidification in the future. AMCC recently released the findings from these roundtable discussions in a report ‘Ocean Acidification and Alaska Fisheries: Views and Voices of Alaska’s Fishermen, Marine Industries and Coastal Residents’ authored by Rachel Donkersloot, PhD.
What is ocean acidification? Oceans help regulate the earth’s climate by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Since the start of the industrial revolution, our oceans have absorbed 525 billion tons of carbon dioxide. About a quarter of the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere goes into the oceans. When carbon dioxide is dissolved in seawater, it alters the pH level and causes it to be more acidic. Most estimates say that since the 1750’s, our oceans’ acidity has risen by 30%.
Why is this bad? Increases in acidity cause less calcium carbonate to be available for use by marine organisms and animals such as mollusks and crustaceans to make their shells. It also affects tiny animals (some that are a key food source for salmon) near the bottom of the food chain and corals. A recent study shows that 75% of the $4 billion U.S. fishing industry is connected to an organism that will be impacted by ocean acidification. In addition, changes in the chemistry of our oceans will make them less able to absorb carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.
There are still many questions to be answered in order to determine how ocean acidification will affect our oceans and the fisheries in Alaska specifically. AMCC’s roundtable participants identified monitoring and research as priorities at a time when funding for ocean acidification research is decreasing.
What can you do to help? Read AMCC’s report in its entirety here. Alaska Marine Conservation Council, one of Alaska Conservation Alliance’s member groups, works to address ocean acidification in many different ways. Check out their website at www.akmarine.org to learn more about their great organization and to learn how you can help.
Read more about AMCC’s new report in this Juneau Empire article.