DV-13-08 Developing statewide research priorities on ocean acidification

Suzanne Arnold
Island Institute

As carbon dioxide increases in the atmosphere, it also increases in the ocean. Once in the ocean, carbon dioxide goes through chemical reactions that make seawater more acidic. The Gulf of Maine may be uniquely susceptible to ocean acidification because cold water tends to be more acidic since it holds more carbon dioxide. Acidity can increase in coastal waters as a result of acidic freshwater inputs from rivers and groundwater. Gulf of Maine shellfish, such as clams, mussels, oysters, and lobsters, are at risk from ocean acidification, which affects their ability to form shells. A damaged shell can affect an animal’s physical functioning and reproduction, causing it to stop eating, grow more slowly, and eventually die. Fishermen and shellfish harvesters and growers are looking to the research community to provide answers about how coastal and ocean acidification will affect shellfish beds, lobsters, and other fisheries.

Building on a half-day workshop at the 2013 Maine Fishermen’s Forum, project partners (Island Institute, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, and Maine Sea Grant) organized an informal group of ~90 interested parties and on January 16, 2014, hosted a workshop to share current understanding, identify potential impacts and knowledge gaps, and develop potential mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Link to project website.

Sea Grant funds: $3,000
Additional support provided by Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, Maine Coastal Program, Ocean Conservancy, and Rockefeller Brothers.