Activists cheer new effort to combat ocean acidification (text & video)

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Maine scientists, shellfish farmers, and politicians are joining forces to deal with what they say is a major change in the waters of the Maine coast. They say the changing climate is causing sea water to become more acidic, and that ocean acidification poses a real threat to Maine’s shellfish.

According to a video explanation prepared by NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, ocean acidification is caused by increased carbon in the atmosphere, in the form of carbon dioxide, mixing with ocean water to form carbonic acid in the sea. That carbonic acid eventually results in lower pH levels in the ocean.

Researchers say more acidic water can damage the shells of clams, mussels and oysters, and even prevent them from growing and reproducing.

The Maine Legislature agreed in the spring to form a special commission to study ocean acidification, and figure out what Maine can do to cope with the impacts. The Maine Conservation Alliance on Friday held a harbor-side press conference in Portland to celebrate that step, saying Maine is the first state on the East Coast to actively address the problem.

Senator Chris Johnson (D-Somerville) also unveiled the names of the 16 members of that commission. It includes legislators, representatives of three state agencies, scientists and people from the shellfish industry.

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree joined the group, saying she is trying to get the Obama Administration to take a similar action at the national level. Those involved with the issue said a more acidic ocean threatens the survival of shellfish, and therefore the state’s multi-million dollar shellfish business.

Joe Payne, who is the Casco Bay-keeper, said the problem is already showing up. Payne said a normal pH level for the water of the bay is 8, but that tests of clam flats have shown dozens of places where levels are significantly lower, meaning those flats are more acidic.

He says several areas have acid levels so high that there are no clams living there.

Payne and Freeport oyster farmer Eric Horne say carbon in the atmosphere isn’t the only cause of higher acid levels. The other, they say, is too much nitrogen coming from the land. The nitrogen comes in the form of sewage pollution in rivers and the ocean, and fertilizer runoff from farms, lawns and gardens.

Payne says that’s one source of ocean acidification that can be stopped, if people will take the needed steps.

Don Carrigan, 27 June 2014. WCSH6. Text & video.

  • Reset


OA-ICC Highlights

%d bloggers like this: