NOAA's Ocean Acidification Program supports research that focuses on economically and ecologically important marine species. Research of survival, growth, and physiology of marine organisms can be used to explore how aquaculture, wild fisheries, and food webs may change as ocean chemistry changes.
A number of NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service Science Centers have state-of-the-art experimental facilities to study the response of marine organisms to the chemistry conditions expected with ocean acidification.
The Northeast Fisheries Science Center has facilities at its Sandy Hook, NJ and Milford, CT laboratories; the Alaska Fisheries Science Centers at its Newport, OR and Kodiak, AK laboratories; and the Northwest Fisheries Science Center at its Mukilteo and Manchester, WA laboratories. All facilities can tightly control carbon dioxide and temperature. The Northwest Fisheries Science Center can also control oxygen, and can create variable treatment conditions for carbon dioxide, temperature, and oxygen. These facilities include equipment for seawater carbon chemistry analysis, and all use standard operating procedures for analyzing carbonate chemistry to identify the treatment conditions used in experiments.
Both deep sea and shallow reef-building corals have calcium carbonate skeletons. As our oceans become more acidic, carbonate ions, which are an important part of calcium carbonate structures, such as these coral skeletons, become relatively less abundant. Decreases in seawater carbonate ion concentration can make building and maintaining calcium carbonate structures difficult for calcifying marine organisms such as coral.
Increased levels of carbon dioxide in our ocean can have a wide variety of impacts on fish, including altering behavior, otolith (a fish's ear bone) formation, and young fish's growth. Find out more about what scientists are learning about ocean acidification impacts on fish like rockfish, scup, summer flounder, and walleye pollock.
Shellfish, such as oyster, clams, crabs and scallop, provide food for marine life and for people, too. Shellfish make their shells or carapaces from calcium carbonate, which contains carbonate ion as a building block. The decreases in seawater carbonate ion concentration expected with ocean acidification can make building and maintaining calcium carbonate structures difficult for calcifying marine organisms like shellfish. This may impact their survival, growth, and physiology, and, thus, the food webs and economies that depend on them.
Plankton are tiny plants and animals that many marine organisms, ranging from salmon to whales, rely on for nutrition. Some plankton have calcium carbonate structures, which are built from carbonate ions. Carbonate ions become relatively less abundant as the oceans become more acidic. Decreases in seawater carbonate ions can make building and maintaining shells and other calcium carbonate structures difficult for calcifying marine organisms such as plankton. Changes to the survival, growth, and physiology of plankton can have impacts throughout the food web.
Depending on appropriations, NOAA National Sea Grant College Program (NOAA Sea Grant) expects to have available a total of $7,000,000 to $11,500,000 across fiscal years 2018, 2019 and 2020 as part of the Sea Grant National Aquaculture Initiative (NAI). As part of the NAI, this competition is designed to foster the expansion of a sustainable U.S. ocean, coastal and Great Lakes aquaculture sector by addressing one or more of the following priorities: (a) supporting the development of emerging systems or technologies that will advance aquaculture in the U.S., including projects that will help stimulate aquaculture production by nascent industries; (b) developing and implementing actionable methods of communicating accurate, science based messages and information about the benefits and risks of U.S. marine aquaculture to the public; and (c) increasing the resiliency of aquaculture systems to natural hazards and changing conditions. Successful applications must describe projects that clearly address major constraints, barriers or hurdles limiting aquaculture production in the U.S. Complete proposals are due from eligible parties to Sea Grant programs on March 2, 2018 at 5 p.m. local time. Proposals from Sea Grant programs are due in grants.gov by March 30, 2018.
Interested applicant may obtain the full Federal Funding Opportunity announcement by visiting grants.gov opportunity number NOAA-OAR-SG-2018-2005489.
Applicants are strongly encouraged to reach out to their Sea Grant Program one to two months prior to the Sea Grant program
The West Coast of the U.S. sits at the forefront of addressing impacts of OA, due to local oceanography and recent, catastrophic failures at oyster hatcheries over the past decade. Research along the West Coast has brought into sharp focus the potential local consequences of highly acidified seawater for aquaculture operations and California ecosystems more broadly. In response, states have mobilized in developing policy and science recommendations (e.g., WA Ocean Acidification Blue Ribbon Panel, and the West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Panel). This talk will review the science of OA, how it is impacting the California Coast, and how the West Coast states have shown leadership in addressing this problem.
For Bill Mook, coastal acidification is one thing his oyster hatchery cannot afford to ignore. Mook Sea Farm depends on seawater from the Gulf of Maine pumped into a Quonset hut-style building where tiny oysters are grown in tanks. Mook sells these tiny oysters to other oyster farmers or transfers them to his oyster farm on the Damariscotta River where they grow large enough to sell to restaurants and markets on the East Coast.
A small but growing number of entrepreneurs are creating sea-farming operations that cultivate shellfish together with kelp and seaweed, a combination they contend can restore ecosystems and mitigate the impacts of ocean acidification.