Alaska fishermen: “SOS-Ocean Acid”

More than 100 fishing boats, sail boats, skiffs and kayaks took to the waters of Homer Alaska recently as commercial fishermen, mariners and others from coastal communities spelled out an urgent message to protect jobs and fisheries from the threat of ocean acidification.

The boats arranged themselves in the ocean to spell out “Ocean Acid SOS” as part of a ‘Voices for the Ocean’ event hosted by the Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC) and the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP).

This event marked a rare collaboration between commercial fishermen and the conservation community in the region. Participants hope the ‘SOS’ will be heard by the US Congress and international leaders participating in the upcoming United Nations climate negotiations in Copenhagen, and that their call for help will result in definitive action to curb ocean acidification, referred to by scientists as the ‘evil twin’ of climate change.

“Fishermen and others who depend on Alaska’s rich marine resources are coming together as one voice in support of reducing fossil fuel consumption and moving to a renewable energy future. This is the only real solution to ocean acidification and the time to act is right now,” said Alan Parks, a small-scale family fisherman from Homer whose primary source of income is commercial fishing in Alaska.

Mr Parks and others are asking leaders to follow science and not politics, and with this ‘SOS’ are calling on state, national, and international leaders to protect the ocean from the acidifying, oxygen-depleting, and climate-altering impacts of uncontrolled fossil fuel emissions.

Recent research confirms that acidification is caused by billions of tons of carbon dioxide that rise from smokestacks and tailpipes every year and mix into the sea. In seawater, the gas forms an acid that attacks the foundation of marine food webs. The same pollution that drives climate change also undercuts fisheries around the world, especially in the vulnerable North Pacific off Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, which produce more than two thirds of the US seafood harvest. The North Pacific is a global repository for carbon dioxide in the oceans.

world fishing, 9 September 2009. Article.

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