Washington Gov. Gregoire takes on ocean acidification
Oysters are especially vulnerable to the effects of ocean acidification.
In 2007, Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery in Tillamook saw four straight months of zero shellfish-larvae production. By late 2008, everything was dead.
“We almost had to close,” said Alan Barton, production manager of Whiskey Creek. “We’d never seen anything like it.”
Barton, whose hatchery was one of the first in the Pacific Northwest to be hit with such changes, took water samples and discovered a dramatic increase in acidification levels of the seawater — a reduction in pH caused by increased carbon dioxide.
Rapidly rising ocean acidity levels have become a growing concern to the $270 million Washington state shellfish industry, which accounts for 85 percent of West Coast shellfish sales, serves as the country’s top producer of oysters, clams and mussels and indirectly employs around 3,200 people in the state, according to Gov. Chris Gregoire's office.
Gregoire signed an executive order Tuesday approving a series of 42 actions and 18 "key early actions" to reduce acidification, to be implemented by the Department of Ecology. The steps were recommended by a panel of experts she created last February.
In her proposed December budget, Gregoire plans to recommend $3.3 million be used to implement the plan, to come from existing taxes on hazardous substances and revenue of leases from state-owned aquatic lands.
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