Breakout Session 05: Ocean Acidification Threats to Fisheries and Aquaculture

Breakout Session

05. Ocean Acidification Threats to Fisheries and Aquaculture

Coordinator: John Guinotte, Marine Biogeographer, Marine Conservation Biology Institute


  1. Hauke Kite-Powell, Research Specialist (Marine Policy Center), Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
  2. Ed Miles, Professor of Marine and Public Affairs (ret.), University of Washington
  3. Adrienne Sutton, NRC Postdoctoral Associate, NOAA-Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory
  4. Chris Langdon, Professor, Dept. of Fisheries and Wildlife, Molluscan Broodstock Program, Oregon State University
  5. Mark Wiegardt, co-owner, Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery


Seawater chemistry and the calcium carbonate saturation state of the world’s oceans are changing as a result of the addition of fossil fuel CO2 to the atmosphere. The pH of surface oceans has dropped by 0.1 units since the industrial revolution and if fossil fuel combustion continues at present rates, the pH of the world’s oceans will probably drop another 0.3 to 0.4 units by 2100.

The surface ocean is not the only area being impacted by ocean acidification (OA). The calcite and aragonite saturation horizons are also moving to shallower depths at an alarming rate, putting deep sea taxa and fisheries at risk. As the world’s oceans become more acidic, marine organisms (corals, plankton, calcareous algae, and mollusks) that build skeletons, tests, and shells of calcium carbonate will be negatively impacted, which will likely lead to cascading effects throughout marine food webs, including commercial and recreational fisheries.

This session will address the potential economic and biological impacts of ocean acidification on commercial and recreational fisheries, with particular emphasis on shellfish aquaculture.  Policy implications of ocean acidification and potential actions for directly dealing with the problem will also be highlighted. Regional ocean acidification research, monitoring, and adaptation strategies are currently being developed in some areas of the US (e.g. Puget Sound, Southern California) to quantify the changes underway and identify action responses to deal with the problem. Partnerships between the fishing and aquaculture industries, government, NGOs, and academia could and should be forged to effectively assess the threats ocean acidification poses and develop strategies for dealing with the ocean acidification problem.


  • Provide examples of possible ways to assess and deal with the problem at local to regional scales.
  • Provide estimates of potential economic losses to the commercial and recreational fishing industries.
  • Forge partnerships among industry, government, NGOs and academia to help us better understand and deal with the problem.
  • Potential for government aid to the aquaculture industry for technological development.

Resulting Recommendations:

DRAFT  RECOMMENDATIONS – Prepared by breakout groups and subject to review. These recommendations are the result of group processes and do not necessarily represent that positions of NCSE, which served as the enabler of the process that generated the recommendations.

Task 1. Increase monitoring of chemical, biological, and physical data within hatcheries, coastal waters, essential fish habitat, and open ocean (food web effects)

Task 2. Develop predictive models and identify tipping points.

Task 3. Monetize the impacts of ocean acidification.

Task 4. Determine the biological responses of economically important species and their food sources.

Task 5. Sustain monitoring of west coast oyster populations and expand monitoring to other productive marine environments.

Task 6. Select and develop stock resistant to ocean acidification.

Task 7. Create a US map of ocean acidification hotspots and use that informtation to guide research and marine spatial planning. 
Task 8. Send a delegation to the White House to discuss ocean acidification.

Task 9. Strengthen ocean resiliency (e.g. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)).

Task 10. Fully fund federal programs (stakeholder education and outreach) and existing acts such as the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring (FOARAM) Act.