Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Commercial Fishermen Want A Role in Ocean Acidification Studies

Commercial fishermen from coastal Alaska say they want to participate in scientific monitoring of the ocean pH in studies of rising ocean acidification.

The Alaska Marine Conservation Council says in a new report out this week that residents of Kodiak, Dillingham and Homer, where they conducted roundtable discussions, are very concerned about damaging traditional uses of marine resources and the harm that will come to the ecosystem that supports those resources.

“The economic value of Alaska’s commercial fisheries approaches $4 billion (first wholesale value), but it is not known how ocean acidification will affect specific fisheries and what the cost will be to the seafood industry and fishery-dependent communities,” said report’s author, Rachel Donkersloot, fisheries program director for the Alaska Marine Conservation Council.

The full report, released March 26, is online at

The community roundtable sessions focused on two key points: consequences of ocean acidification are largely unknown, and uncertainty does not validate inaction.

Donkersloot said fishermen aboard vessels can collect water samples and shellfish growers are skilled observers of local conditions.

The roundtable participants acknowledged that ocean acidification is inevitable and the exact consequences are unknown at this time, yet a doom and gloom attitude did not permeate the discussions in these communities, she said. Instead the groups explored ways to address the root cause of ocean acidification in order to mitigate its effect, including reducing carbon emissions as individuals, industries, communities and a nation.

Donkersloot said the group also recognized the economic benefits of clean energy, especially in rural Alaska, where the cost of living soars with fuel prices.

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