Ocean acidification and Pacific oyster larval failures in the Pacific Northwest United States

The Pacific Northwest coast of the United States (Figure 2.1) is home to a lucrative shellfish aquaculture industry that grows mainly (>80 percent) (Barton, et al. 2012) Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas). Washington States is the center of this industry. Its hatcheries produce oyster larvae, or spat, that are shipped all over the West Coast to be grown to market size in coastal water by aquaculturists. Washington’s hatcheries – along with its 125 farms, located throughout 12 coastal counties (Northern Economics, Inc.. 2013) – produce more shellfish than any other U.S. state, contributing around $270 million to the state economy and supporting about 3,200 jobs (Washington State Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification 2012). The next greatest producer of shellfish in the United States is Connecticut, which has just 23 farms (United States Department of Agriculture 2014). Washington’s entire seafood industry generates more than 42,000 jobs in the state and contributes $1.7 billion to the gross state product via profits and jobs at restaurants, distributors and retailers (Washington State Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification 2012). By comparison, the entire state hosts approximately 3 million jobs (Employment Security Department, Washington State) contributing to an approximately $446 billion gross state profit (U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis). In other words, 1.4 percent of the state’s jobs are located in the shellfish industry, which creates 0.4 percent of the gross state profit. Shellfish generate more than two-thirds of the harvest value of the state’s wild commercial fisheries. Recreational shellfish harvesting in the Pacific Northwest also creates jobs and income for coastal counties. Recreational shellfish harvesting licenses generate $3 million annually in state revenue, and recreational oyster and clam harvesters contribute more than $27 million annually to coastal economies (Washington State Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification 2012). Besides the economic impacts of shellfish harvesting, harvesting and eating seafood is an integral part of the culture and everyday life of many Washingtonians.

Cooley S. R., Cheney J. E., Kelly R. P. & Allison E. H., in press. Ocean acidification and Pacific oyster larval failures in the Pacific Northwest United States. In: Guillotreau P., Bundy A. & Perry R. I. (Eds.), Global Change in Marine Systems: Societal and Governing Responses. Routledge. Chapter (restricted access).

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