California Shellfish Farmers Adapt to Climate Change


SDSU and Oregon State University researchers probe growers’ strategies for keeping the sustainable industry resilient as oceans turn more acidic.

Because of our proximity to the ocean, Californians get to enjoy locally sourced oysters, mussels, abalone and clams. Most of the shellfish consumed here come from aquaculture farms along the coast — from San Diego to Humboldt County. And because the animals are filter feeders that siphon tiny plankton out of seawater, growing them is environmentally sustainable.

But due to rising greenhouse gas emissions, the ocean has become more acidic, conditions hostile to shellfish growth.

“There have been calls across the state and across the U.S. to increase aquaculture output because it's so sustainable. But then at the same time, it's a very vulnerable industry,” said Melissa Ward, a postdoctoral fellow at San Diego State University.

In a new study, SDSU and Oregon State University researchers interviewed California shellfish growers to find out how they perceive ocean acidification, and to learn what strategies they think will help their operations adapt to changing environmental conditions.

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Image via San Diego State University