Anticipating ocean acidification’s economic consequences for commercial fisheries

Ocean acidification, a consequence of rising anthropogenic CO2 emissions, is poised to change marine ecosystems profoundly by increasing dissolved CO2 and decreasing ocean pH, carbonate ion concentration, and calcium carbonate mineral saturation state worldwide. These conditions hinder growth of calcium carbonate shells and skeletons by many marine plants and animals. The first direct impact on humans may be through declining harvests and fishery revenues from shellfish, their predators, and coral reef habitats. In a case study of US commercial fishery revenues, we begin to constrain the economic effects of ocean acidification over the next 50 years using atmospheric CO2 trajectories and laboratory studies of its effects, focusing especially on mollusks. In 2007, the $3.8 billion US annual domestic ex-vessel commercial harvest ultimately contributed $34 billion to the US gross national product. Mollusks contributed 19%, or $748 million, of the ex-vessel revenues that year. Substantial revenue declines, job losses, and indirect economic costs may occur if ocean acidification broadly damages marine habitats, alters marine resource availability, and disrupts other ecosystem services. We review the implications for marine resource management and propose possible adaptation strategies designed to support fisheries and marine-resource-dependent communities, many of which already possess little economic resilience.



Cooley, S. R. & Doney, S. C., 2009. Anticipating ocean acidification’s economic consequences for commercial fisheries. Environmental Research Letters 4:1-8. Article.

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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