Fish Radio

Acid oceans, climate change a NOAA priority

March 8, 2016



This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Climate change and acidic oceans   –  a chat with the nation’s top fisheries official after this —

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   The changing climate and chemistry of our oceans is definitely on radar screens of federal planet watchers.  That’s the assurance of Kathryn Sullivan, director of the National Oceanic, Atmospheric Administration.

I don’t need to tell Alaskans – you are living it, you see it all around you. And the consequences that have societally, economically, ecologically you all are living it every day.

Sullivan calls NOAA the nation’s environmental intelligence agency.  For example,  increased and ongoing intelligence being gathered by monitoring programs are providing more and better science on the impacts of ocean acidification.  That, she says, will guide actions that lead to better decision making.

Our focus again is to try to translate that into information that can help Alaska fishermen, fisheries, fishing communities be more adaptable and resilient in the face of these kinds of changes that are coming at us.  

Ongoing NOAA studies near Washington reveal that the protective shells of tiny, snail-like pteropods are corroding from acidic waters.   Pteropods make up 40% of juvenile pink salmon’s diets.

It’s not just pteropods feeding into finfish stocks health, we also are finding early and worrisome indications of consequences for red and Tanner crab, for example, with shell viability and survivability prospects of young crab.  

Sullivan – who was formerly NOAA’s top ocean scientist, says impacts from a changing climate and ocean chemistry are happening fast in Alaska.

A focal point is to   look at driving forces in the world where we see really rapid, major  scales of change – trade and investment, innovation,  and environment data are the four focal areas for our dept. level strategic plan. In Alaska we see such an intersection and interplay of a number of these dimensions of change and are happening on a large stage and even more rapid rate and in some cases even more vivid consequences than you see in other part of the world or the country.  

That’s  NOAA director Kathryn Sullivan – who also is in the Astronaut’s Hall of Fame.

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods.  Ocean Beauty has contributed over 10 million meals to the U.S. Food Bank network, and is committed to ending hunger in America.      In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.