Breakout Session: Ocean acidification threats to fisheries and aquaculture

Coordinator/Moderator: John Guinotte, Marine Conservation Biology Institute


  1. Brad Warren, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership
  2. Sarah Cooley, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
  3. Ed Miles, Professor, University of Washington

Seawater chemistry and the calcium carbonate saturation state of the world’s oceans are changing as a result of the addition of fossil fuel CO2 to the atmosphere. The pH of surface oceans has dropped by 0.1 units since the industrial revolution and if fossil fuel combustion continues at present rates, the pH of the world’s oceans will probably drop another 0.3 to 0.4 units by 2100.

The surface ocean is not the only area being impacted by ocean acidification (OA). The calcite and aragonite saturation horizons are also moving to shallower depths at an alarming rate, putting deep sea taxa and fisheries at risk. As the world’s oceans become more acidic, marine organisms (corals, plankton, calcareous algae, and mollusks) that build skeletons, tests, and shells of calcium carbonate will be negatively impacted, which will likely lead to cascading effects throughout marine food webs, including commercial and recreational fisheries.

This symposium will address the potential impacts of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems by reviewing the most recent experimental evidence on biological responses to increasing ocean acidification and the potential for cascading effects throughout marine ecosystems. Environmental change, including ocean acidification, creates biological winners and losers. Both will be discussed in this session. Potential impacts of ocean acidification on commercial and recreational fisheries will also be addressed. Policy implications of ocean acidification and potential actions for directly dealing with the problem will also be highlighted. Regional ocean acidification research, monitoring, and mitigation strategies are currently being developed in some areas of the US (e.g. Puget Sound). The Puget Sound effort will be discussed as a potential model for beginning to understand and deal with the ocean acidification problem at the regional level.


  • Provide examples of possible ways to address the problem at local to regional scales.
  • Identification of actions the fishing industry can take to help us better understand and deal with the problem.

Our Changing Oceans, NCSE 11th National Conference on Science, Policy, and the Environment. 19-21 January 2011, Washington, DC. Web site.

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OA-ICC Highlights

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