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Shellfish at Risk as Ocean Acidity Expected to Rise

27 February 2015

GLOBAL - By the end of the century it is predicted that levels of acidity in the oceans will have a pH value of around 7.8 on average, and this will bring with it some serious effects for the aquaculture industry.

The aquaculture industries that are particularly affected are the ones that specialise in farming shellfish such as such as mussels, oysters, scallops, clams, crabs and lobsters, with some having reported losing up to 95 per cent of their stock.

The cause of the rising acidity levels in the water is thought to be from pollution, in particular the burning of fossil fuels used in heavy industry. Since the start of the industrial revolution, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has steadily increased to its highest level yet, around 380 parts per billion, with the effects now showing in coastal waters.

The surface of the oceans and seas mix with and absorb carbon dioxide from the air, and the more that gets absorbed, the more acidic the water becomes. The acidity of the water can be measured using the pH scale which ranges from 0-14.

Lower measurements on the scale mean a higher level of acidity in the water. The pH value of sea water has remained steady for many years, but now research shows that there has been a sudden drop in pH levels.

Measurements taken from Vancouver Harbour in Canada show a pH value of 8.1 from 1954 through to 1974. More recently this has dropped to around 8.0, which is a significant amount in the natural fluctuation of the levels. One recording in 2001 showed a dramatical decline to a pH value of 7.3.

This change from what was once steady pH levels is causing havoc for marine life. The water of the seas and oceans now show a 30 per cent increase in acidity since the beginning of the industrial revolution.

By the end of the century it is predicted that levels of acidity in the oceans will have a pH value of around 7.8 on average, and this will bring with it some serious effects for the aquaculture industry.

You might also like:

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Further Reading

You can view the full report 'The Impact of Coastal Acidification to the Aquaculture Industry' by clicking here.

 

 

 

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