Prepare to Say Goodbye to Shellfish as Our Oceans Become More Acidic
The shellfish industry is being hit hard due to climate change, pollution and other environmental factors, which combined are making the waters too acidic for shelled marine life to survive. In fact, this particular seafood industry has seen an approximate $141 million loss so far in the Pacific Northwest. These environmental conditions are also projected to cause cuts in the Northeast’s annual mollusk harvest, which typically yields a $300 million dollar annual return.
Rather than protecting profits and big business bottom lines, the focus really should be on how to protect wildlife. Recent findings that the waters are too acidic for the sea life show that, “Excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is absorbed by the oceans. That change in the chemical balance can be devastating for mollusks, which struggle to build shells as seas becomes more acidic.” If the ocean conditions do not improve, we are possibly looking at extinction of certain mollusk species in the future.
However, experts are predicting that even with making significant changes, the acidity of the waters might not be able to be corrected, saying that, “The results are further examples that climate change is having a significant impact on both the planet and the global economy, and will continue to threaten the environment even if greenhouse-gas emissions are significantly curtailed.” This is a scary thought for the future of our oceans and wildlife.
Some say that possible ways to mend this problem could be to reduce pollution on the East Coast which would help mitigate the acidity levels, although the West Coast might be a bit trickier. Lisa Suatoni, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, states that, “Conditions on the West Coast are more complicated and may require researchers and shellfish farmers to chemically manipulate the seawater,” which sounds like a drastic solution toproblems that were plausibly caused by the commercial fishing industry to begin with.
“The oceanographers tell us that even if we were to stop all of our carbon inputs to the atmosphere and ocean, if we were to turn off that spigot today, we’d still have 50 years of questionable water to deal with,” expressed Margaret Pilaro Barrette, the executive director of the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association. Pilaro also said that, “We can learn to adapt to that. The problem is, we don’t know what else is around the corner.”
Since the industry has already taken upwards of hundreds of millions of dollars in losses, you would think that the industry would shift to that of a more sustainable source, one that affects the earth in a more positive way. Maybe they should cash in on one of the many plant-based “seafood” options that are now available in natural foods stores and markets, or create a product of their own that would replicate flavors of shellfish using seaweed and other natural flavors, without obliterating the few mollusks that are still existing and fighting to survive the acidic waters.
We really should reconsider eating fish. If the waters are not habitable for certain sea life, there could be a huge change in the way that we as a society eat, and conceivably there should be. The way we are living is obviously not working according to Mother Nature’s standards, and we can no longer ignore the signs.
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