The Herald of Everett, Washington
Customer service  |  Subscribe   |   Log in or sign up   |   Advertising information   |   Contact us
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up  Green editions icon Green editions


Splash! Summer guide

HeraldNet Headlines
HeraldNet Newsletter Delivered to your inbox each week.

Published: Friday, August 15, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
In Our View/Tackling ocean acidificaton

Preserving shellfish — and us

The challenge of galvanizing support for cleaning Puget Sound is undercut by the illusion of beauty. Consider the corrosive effect of ocean acidification, which is all but invisible — except for the billions of dying oyster larvae at hatcheries around the Sound.
On Monday, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, Alaska Sen. Mark Begich and NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan toured NOAA's regional center in Seattle to check out the sensors and high-tech buoys that the agency uses to monitor ocean conditions.
Begich and Cantwell used the event to announce plans to reauthorize legislation that will require NOAA to identify and deploy ocean-acidification sensors where they're needed most. According to Cantwell's office, the bill would create the first-ever national ocean acidification-monitoring plan, targeting areas under the greatest threat.
“We need to give researchers the tools they need to help these crab fishermen, fisheries in general, and the shellfish industry to get the most important data so these industries can be protected,” Cantwell said.
Ocean acidification is the result of seawater absorbing increasing amounts of carbon dioxide. That changes the ocean's chemistry, making it more corrosive to the shells of sea creatures such as oysters, mussels and crab. Research documents a link between increasing ocean acidity and high mortality rates for young oysters and shellfish, which could pose a threat to Washington's $270 million shellfish economy.
According to NOAA, Washington fisheries are a $1.7 billion industry, supporting 42,000 jobs. Nationally, commercial fishing contributes $70 billion to the U.S. economy and supports 1 million jobs.
Researchers determined that the Northwest die-off that began in 2005 was triggered by low-pH seawater. This acidification, caused largely by fossil fuels and the uptake of carbon dioxide, is strafing the state's marine economy.
A 2012 state panel co-chaired by Bill Ruckelshaus recommended adapting and remediating for ocean acidification — essentially damage management. Suggestions include developing commercial-scale hatchery designs and water-treatment methods to safeguard larvae along with planting additional vegetation in upland areas.
Other components include reducing local, land-based contributors such as organic carbon and nutrient runoff. That may require sewage-system infrastructure in rural areas adjacent to water (now curtailed by the Growth Management Act.)
Washingtonians will pay now or pay later, as the West Coast recalibrates for a literal sea change.

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.


Herald Editorial Board

Jon Bauer, Opinion Editor:

Carol MacPherson, Editorial Writer:

Neal Pattison, Executive Editor:

Josh O'Connor, Publisher:

Have your say

Feel strongly about something? Share it with the community by writing a letter to the editor. Send letters by e-mail to, by fax to 425-339-3458 or mail to The Herald - Letters, P.O. Box 930, Everett, WA 98206. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We'll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 250 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it. If your letter is published, please wait 30 days before submitting another. Have a question about letters? Contact Carol MacPherson at or 425-339-3472.

HeraldNet Classifieds