New study suggests acidification from climate change could harm sea scallop populations

Jamie Sewell of Warren prepares his boat for a scallop diving off the coast of Cushing in January 2015. Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer, file.

A new study co-authored by federal scientists and Massachusetts Maritime Academy staff and students suggests that increased ocean acidification could pose a threat to the sea scalloping industry in the Gulf of Maine and elsewhere along the Atlantic seaboard.

It marks the first time that the impact of ocean acidification on sea scallops has been studied to this extent.

In an eight-week research project, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration collaborated with the academy to conduct the study at the school’s aquaculture lab on Buzzards Bay in Massachusetts. They concluded that ocean acidification could significantly depress Atlantic sea scallop productivity in the years ahead.

Their study, which was published March 1, also found that pH levels – the measure of acidity – in the Gulf of Maine are dropping faster than at other locations on the East Coast, meaning acidity is increasing. Ocean acidification rises as the ocean absorbs more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Dennis Hoey, The Portland Press Herald, 22 March 2023. Full article.

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