The economic impact of ocean acidification on Pacific oysters

Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, our atmosphere has continued to experience increased levels of CO2 concentrations and with it, changes in seawater carbonate chemistry. These changes in the carbonate chemistry of seawater, a process known as ocean acidification (OA), threaten some species upon which some economies are largely dependent for economic activity. This thesis uses the best available data to summarize the Washington State shellfish economy and estimate potential impacts of OA on Pacific oyster demand. The analysis evaluates the economic impact of OA on demand using an autoregressive distributed lag (ARDL) model approach to estimate short-run and long-run impacts.

Although initial research attempted to assess the impacts of OA on Pacific oyster supply, findings from this study suggest that long-run decreases in carbonate chemistry may negatively impact the demand for Pacific oysters. As the waters used to grow Pacific oysters in Washington State continue to degrade as a result of OA, substantial losses in economic activity from Pacific oysters may be lost. On the west coast, oysters appear to be a luxury good with demand highly responsive to changes in income. Pacific oysters are moderately sensitive to price, indicating demand for oysters is elastic.

Eaton G.A., 2015. The economic impact of ocean acidification on Pacific oysters. MSc thesis, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 48 pp. Thesis (subscription required).

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