Friday, June 11, 2010

Ocean Acidification: SeaWeb brings bring scientists and commercial fisheries to the table

With many environmental issues, real quantifiable progress is often attained when scientists and commercial interests can sit down and objectively discuss the situation., through its Seafood Choices Alliance, realizes this and has been taking steps to get what can seem like disparate interests to sit down at the same table to discuss the reality of ocean acidification.

Ocean acidification is when the oceans become more acidic from the absorption of increased CO2 in the atmosphere. This increase in the water's acidity levels impacts a variety of corals, shellfish, and other animals that rely on the use of calcium in building shells or other supporting structures - a process that is severely weakened by the more acidic water.

SeaWeb has conducted two workshop meetings - one in Portland, Oregon and another recently held in St. Petersburg, Florida - between scientists and commercial fishing leaders to discuss what the latest data says about the current and future status of ocean acidification, and what it means not only for the marine species but for the commercial fishermen and aquaculture companies.

"It is good for various and even opposing stakeholders of a public resource to sit down and talk. At least we can understand the investment each of us has in our finite fisheries and oceans," said Bobby Aylesworth, chairman of the Board of the Southeastern Fisheries Association, about the workshops. "Hopefully we find some common ground to grow from."

According to SeaWeb, one of the ways that scientists hope to collaborate with the seafood industry is through the sharing of data. Ocean acidification is not something that anyone can hide from, so by sharing data drawn from water quality tests taken at hatcheries and nurseries, combined with ongoing scientific studies by local scientists; all interested parties can have a better idea as to what changes are taking place within their own particular region of commercial concern.

There is already documented evidence of the impact of ocean acidification on sealife, so it behooves commercial industry to work with scientists - rather than to oppose or worse yet, buy-off scientists - to get an accurate picture of the issue. Nothing grabs the attention of policy and decision makers regarding an environmental threat than when a commercial enterprise is put at risk. When may be thought of as a bit esoteric suddenly becomes very real.

Read about SeaWeb in Action.

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