Opinion: Congress must address climate, ocean acid to keep strong fisheries

Commercial fishermen and their charter boat counterparts frequently find themselves on opposing sides of the table on a range of issues related to access and management of Alaska’s valuable fisheries resources.

As representatives of charter and commercial fishing organizations, we can attest that quarrels between our user groups are older than statehood. Indeed, we often express opposing views in public forums.

But on one issue we are in complete agreement: ocean acidification poses an imminent threat to our fisheries and our livelihoods. Here’s why.

Studies show organisms that produce calcium carbonate skeletons and shells, such as shellfish, mollusks and the plants that cement coral reefs, as well as microscopic plankton at the base of the ocean food chain, will face increasing difficulty making shell material as the oceans turn more acidic. If it gets bad enough, shells could literally dissolve.

According to Jeremy Mathis, an ocean scientist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and an expert on ocean acidification, one of the first casualties of ocean acidification will likely be the pteropod, a planktonic snail that makes up more than half the food supply for Alaska pink salmon, whose adult harvest weights will plummet if the pteropod population declines.

Food-chain disruptions will affect all kinds of salmon, crab, mollusks and the other species including halibut — our bread and butter — which all contribute to Alaska’s vital fisheries economy.

Tim Evers and Jeff Farvour, ALASKA Journal of Commerce, 17 September 2010. Full article.

  • Reset


OA-ICC Highlights

%d bloggers like this: