Ocean acidification and its impact on marine biodiversity, seafood security & livelihoods – a short review

Ocean acidification (OA) is an effect of climate change. OA can be defined as long-term decrease in seawater pH, principally due to anthropogenic increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). The absorption of CO2 has already acidified the surface layers of the ocean causing an overall decrease of 0.1 pH units (30% increase in acidity) since the pre-industrial period, and the surface ocean pH is projected to decrease by 0.3-0.4 pH units (150% increase in acidity) by 2100. A recent study reveals that increased OA may amplify further global warming due to reduced dimethylsulphide (DMS, a biogenic marine sulphur compound) in the oceans. Ocean acidification is one of the most critical anthropogenic threats to marine life, in particular to calcifying organisms. There are both negative and positive effects of OA. Negative effects include reduced calcification, reduced abundance, reduced growth, reduced development and reduced survival in calcifying organisms (krill, pteropods, molluscs, corals, echinoderms, early life stage of fish and phytoplankton) and positive effects include enhanced growth and enhance photosynthesis in seaweeds and seagrasses. Economic loss and impacts on food security due to OA could be substantial. Eighty two developing nations including many island nations depend heavily on calcifying species to support subsistence or artisanal fisheries that provide both income and protein. Many of these small-island nations have limited agricultural alternatives. Ocean acidification could not only impacts on the commercial fisheries and shellfish production but could also threaten protein supply and food security and livelihoods for millions of the world’s poorest people. To avoid substantial damage to ocean ecosystems and marine life, deep and rapid reductions of global CO2 emissions are needed from human activities.

Kibria G., 2015. Ocean acidification and its impact on marine biodiversity, seafood security & livelihoods – a short review. Research Gate Online. Article.

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