Anticipating ocean acidification’s economic consequences for commercial fisheries Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Ocean acidification, a consequence of rising anthropogenic CO2 emissions, is poised to change marine ecosystems profoundly by increasing dissolved CO2 and decreasing ocean pH, carbonate concentration, and calcium carbonate mineral saturation state worldwide. These conditions hinder growth of calcium carbonate shells and skeletons by many marine plants and animals. The first direct impact on humans may be through declining harvests and fishery revenues from shellfish, their predators, and coral reef habitats. In a case study of U.S. commercial fishery revenues, we begin to constrain the economic effects of ocean acidification over the next 50 years using atmospheric CO2 trajectories and laboratory studies of its effects, focusing especially on mollusks. In 2007, the $3.8 billion U.S. annual domestic ex-vessel commercial harvest ultimately contributed $34 billion to the U.S. gross national product. Mollusks contributed 19%, or $748 million, of the ex-vessel revenues that year. Substantial revenue declines, job losses, and indirect economic costs may occur if ocean acidification broadly damages marine habitats, alters marine resource availability, and disrupts other ecosystem services. We review the implications for marine resource management and propose possible adaptation strategies designed to support fisheries and marine-resource-dependent communities, many of which already possess little economic resilience.

publication date

  • June 1, 2009