Hakai Magazine discusses why Farmed Shellfish Is Not Immune to Climate Change. Touted as a sustainable source of protein, shellfish aquaculture may reach a tipping point by 2060.
Over three billion people depend on marine animals for protein. With wild fisheries stretched thin, that need is increasingly being met by aquaculture. Though some farmed seafood products tax the environment, cultivated mollusks—especially clams, mussels, oysters, and scallops—can help feed a growing population without taking a heavy environmental toll, says Thomas Wilding, a benthic ecologist at the Scottish Association for Marine Science.
According to a new study coauthored by Wilding, the compounded effects of climate change and ocean acidification could majorly disrupt global shellfish aquaculture in just a few decades.
To predict how different countries’ aquaculture industries will fare by 2100, Wilding and his colleagues created a model that assessed the effects of “business as usual” greenhouse gas emissions on mollusk production. They scored each nation by how much its marine environment is expected to change, how sensitive its aquaculture operations are to these fluctuations, and the government’s ability to manage its aquaculture industry.