Next Problems: Acid Oceans, Fishy Oils

December 18, 2009 By: Marshall Cutchin

Striped bass

Image via Wikipedia

As if climate change wasn’t challenging enough by itself, scientists say that the rapid acidification of the ocean (we dump in 1 million tons an hour) will dramatically change sea life by the end of the century. “‘As the oceans become more acidic, it’s harder for corals, oysters, clams, crabs, mussels, lobsters to make their shells or their hard parts, and they dissolve faster,” [NOAA head Jane Lubchenco] said. ‘So ocean acidification, which is a relatively unappreciated problem, is as important as climate change. It’s one that most people haven’t heard of.'” Article by the Associated Press.
Sea shell osteoporosis seems like just another obscure symptom until you read something like Paul Greenberg’s “A Fish Oil Story” in The New York Times. In it, he complains about the “pernicious privatization” of the ocean resources when it comes to producers of lipstick, salmon feed, and yes, even omega-3 supplements. “For the last decade, one company, Omega Protein of Houston, has been catching 90 percent of the nation’s menhaden. The perniciousness of menhaden removals has been widely enough recognized that 13 of the 15 Atlantic states have banned Omega Protein’s boats from their waters.” Not to mention the impact of the reduction of menhaden themselves, which almost every predatory fish — including striped bass, bluefish and other popular gamefish — rely on for survival.
Will fisheries management policies catch up to environmental realities? They haven’t yet.

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