Shellfish industry pins hope on Freeport research

Bangor Daily News

Following a recent Town Council appropriation, the town’s shellfish community has started what is being called a “historic” effort to address the rapid disappearance of soft-shell clams.

The effort is the first comprehensive, large-scale research project in Maine to study the most significant factors believed to be contributing to the decline of shellfish resources, said Brian Beal, a professor at the University of Maine at Machias and one of the scientists working on the project.

“To the best of my knowledge, I am not aware of any community that has raised this much money for a shellfish research project, ever,” he said. “(It) underscores the commitment by the town to this very important commercial resource that they co-manage with the state of Maine.”

Tuesday, May 21, 2013
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Crabs, supersized by carbon pollution, may upset Chesapeake’s balance

Crabs, supersized by carbon pollution, may upset Chesapeake’s balance

The Washington Post

It is the dawn of the super crab.

Crabs are bulking up on carbon pollution that pours out of power plants, factories and vehicles and settles in the oceans, turning the tough crustaceans into even more fearsome predators.

That presents a major problem for the Chesapeake Bay, where crabs eat oysters. In a life-isn’t-fair twist, the same carbon that crabs absorb to grow bigger stymies the development of oysters.

“Higher levels of carbon in the ocean are causing oysters to grow slower, and their predators — such as blue crabs — to grow faster,” Justin Baker Ries, a marine geologist at the University of North Carolina’s Aquarium Research Center, said in an recent interview.

 

Sunday, April 7, 2013
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Special report: USA TODAY will explore how climate change is affecting Americans in a series of stories this year.

Special report: USA TODAY will explore how climate change is affecting Americans in a series of stories this year.

USA Today

OYSTER BAY, Wash. -- The tide rolls out on a chilly March evening, and the oystermen roll in, steel rakes in hand, hip boots crunching on the gravel beneath a starry, velvet sky.

As they prepare to harvest some of the sweetest shellfish on the planet, a danger lurks beyond the shore that will eventually threaten clams, mussels, everything with a shell or that eats something with a shell. The entire food chain could be affected. That means fish, fishermen and, perhaps, you.

"Ocean acidification," the shifting of the ocean's water toward the acidic side of its chemical balance, has been driven by climate change and has brought increasingly corrosive seawater to the surface along the West Coast and the inlets of Puget Sound, a center of the $111 million shellfish industry in the Pacific Northwest.

Thursday, March 28, 2013
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Acidic Ocean Hits Pacific Northwest

Acidic Ocean Hits Pacific Northwest

Chemical & Engineering News

The path to Cape Flattery is a twisty, moss-carpeted tunnel underneath red cedar and Douglas fir trees that crowd Washington state’s rugged coastline. Micah McCarty scrambles down the forest trail to a shoreline below, leaping across tide pools and slippery rocks to a point where waves break on shellfish beds. We’ve reached the northwesternmost point of the U.S. mainland, a craggy tip of the Olympic Peninsula that belongs to the Makah tribe.

This group of Native Americans has been fishing and harvesting here for the past 2,000 years. McCarty, the tribe’s 42-year-old former chairman, pulls out a pocket knife and squats down to scrape a handful of mussels and barnacles into his hand. “We call them slippers and boots,” he says. “I’ll make them into a Makah paella tonight.”

McCarty and his family grew up picking these marine delights along the coast. Oysters, clams, cockles, barnacles, and other types of mollusks and shellfish have always been part of the Makah diet, as well as the tribe’s culture. The shells are used both as beads in ceremonial regalia and as musical instruments. But now, changes in the global climate have led to rising ocean acidification that has put in peril the future of the Makah harvest.

Monday, March 25, 2013
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Are Oysters Doomed? Don’t believe in climate change? Talk to a clam digger.

The Slate

Unlike other problems caused by CO2, ocean acidification is spurring some action, possibly because the effects are so visibly tied to the cause. “With climate change there’s often a schism between scientists and those who flat out don’t want to believe it,” says Green. “It’s hard to get a man to believe something if his job depends on not believing it.” But in this case, he says, it’s the people in the industry who are leading awareness. “Talk to shellfish clammers—the guys who dig—and every one of them is on board, especially the old timers. They have seen over the years the populations go from incredibly productive to virtually disappearing in many cases.” One bit of anecdotal evidence diggers have reported is clams with thinner shells—so thin, they say, that sometimes it’s not possible to fill bushel baskets to the top because the fragile shells at the bottom will be crushed.

Monday, February 18, 2013
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