Ocean acidification threatens some of Japan’s favorite seafood

Oyster cages in the waters off the town of Hinase, Okayama Prefecture, in August 2020 | SATOUMI RESEARCH INSTITUTE

Oysters, scallops, urchins, shrimps and crabs: All are popular among seafood lovers and all are at risk of disappearing from restaurant menus if the ocean keeps absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, causing it to become more acidic.

Carbon dioxide emissions are known to cause climate change, but they also affect the ocean. Dubbed “the other carbon dioxide problem,” ocean acidification is getting increasing attention worldwide, as it impacts a wide variety of marine species, including corals and other sea creatures that depend on calcium carbonate to survive.

In Japan — which on Monday marks Marine Day, a celebration of the ocean’s importance to the country — efforts to study the phenomenon have recently gained momentum. But there’s still a long way to go before the government, academics and nonprofit organizations are properly working together to comprehensively monitor its impact, share know-how and respond to the change, experts say.

“Ocean acidification is something we humans don’t feel directly,” said Masahiko Fujii, associate professor of environmental sciences at Hokkaido University. “Climate change often comes to mind when we wonder, ‘Why is it so hot these days?’ and ‘Why are there so many downpours?’”

But awareness of ocean acidification has been slower to develop because people cannot experience it, he said.

Tomoko Otake, The Japan Times, 17 July 2022. Full article.

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