Our mission is to protect the habitat of Puget Sound tidelands from the underregulated expansion of new and intensive shellfish aquaculture methods. These methods were never anticipated when the Shoreline Management Act was passed. They are transforming the natural tideland ecosystems in Puget Sound and are resulting in a fractured shoreline habitat. In South Puget Sound much of this has been done with few if any meaningful shoreline permits and with limited public input. It is exactly what the Shoreline Management Act was intended to prevent.

Get involved and contact your elected officials to let them you do not support aquaculture's industrial transformation of Puget Sound's tidelands.

Governor Inslee:

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Ocean Acidification: A New Canary in the Coal Mine and It's a Native Species

Pteropods (aka a "butterfly") 
Native and far more 
important to the food web
than non-native shellfish.

$1.5 million absorbed to study 3 acres of kelp - results in 2019
The Paul Allen Family Foundation announced a $1.5 million grant has been awarded to look into whether cultivation of kelp will meaningfully lessen the impact of CO2 on carbonate ions (aka Ocean Acidification) in Puget Sound's marine environment. This drop in carbonate ions results in the inability of pteropods and other native species of Puget Sound  requiring calcification to develop fully. The funds will be spent cultivating kelp in a 3 acre area in north Hood Canal. There, sensors measuring a variety of parameters, including acidity, will be deployed to try and determine the before and after effect of the 3 acre farm.

The flap of a butterfly's wing
can cause big things to happen.
Photo by Astrid Van Ginneken, Center for Whale Research

Pteropod's signficance
In August of 2014, a paper by NOAA's Shallin Busch and others was published which showed the pteropods native to Puget Sound were found to be unable to develop shells in an environment of depleted carbonate ions. The significance of the pteropods to the food chain was explained in a recent Huffington Post article, noting:
No larger than a grain of sand, the latter snail-like creature is a staple in the diet of marine animals, including sea birds and salmon, around the world. Off the Pacific Northwest coast, about half of sea butterflies carry partially dissolved shells, deformed fins and other impacts of ocean acidification that affect their ability to swim and avoid predators and infections. Researchers project that three-quarters will be affected by 2050. A 10 percent drop in sea butterfly numbers translates into about a 20 percent drop in the body weight of mature salmon.
Is a big sponge soaking up
a diminishing resource 
what we need?

Fewer carbonate ions should not be allocated to a non-native species
What is the significance of current aquaculture in Puget Sound as it relates to its impact on the ability of pteropods to fully develop? What will be the impact of hoped for expansion? Nobody knows. Little thought has been given to what the growing cumulative impacts on Puget Sound's native species will be. The millions of non-native oysters grown and harvested require carbonate ions in order for their shells to develop. Equivalent to a large sponge soaking up the carbonate ions, the effect which industrial aquaculture will have on native species in need of the same carbonate ions has not been considered in any of the permitting actions. As seen in the amount of money allocated for a 3 acre site, it is perceived as a significant problem and the real "canary in the coal mine" is beginning to choke.
"...laboratory studies indicate that ocean acidification has negative effects on survival, calcification, growth, and reproduction; these effects are larger for calcifying species than for non-calcifiers. Differential response of marine species to ocean acidification has the potential to change the structure of marine communities, as has been observed in natural experiments, modeling exercises, and Earth’s history." from Shell Condition and Survival of Puget Sound Pteropods Are Impaired by Ocean Acidification Conditions, Shallin Busch et al, 2014

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