SHELTON (VIDEO) — Taylor Shellfish Farms Public Affairs Director Bill Dewey uses a single X-ray to illustrate the dramatic impact that carbon pollution and ocean acidification have on a tiny oyster larvae.
“On the left, you seee an image of a healthy oyster where there’s abundant calcium carbonate in the water and they can build their shell like they’re supposed to,” Dewey said. “On the right is in this water that’s impacted by ocean acidification. There’s not enough carbonate ions in the water so they struggle to build their shell. And if there’s not enough carbonate ions they use all their energy trying to build a shell that is all deformed and small as you see in the picture. More importantly they don’t have enough energy left to feed with and they die.”
Dewey says it’s a situation that if ignored could destroy the shellfish industry. That would affect the 2,700 shellfish industry jobs and an economic contribution of $184 million annually in Washington state.
That’s why Taylor Shellfish Farms and Hama Hama Company have joined shellfish growers from both coasts to launch the Shellfish Growers Climate Coalition.
“The Shellfish Growners Climate Coalition was the brainchild actually of a friend of ours, a shellfish grower in Maine whose also been impacted by changing ocean conditions,” Dewey said. “He recognized as do all of us that the source of the problem is carbon pollution in the changing chemistry of the ocean.”
The coalition, which was formed with nonprofit global conservation organization, The Nature Conservancy, the will educate food-sector businesses and consumers, and lobby policy makers to raise awareness about climate change and its effects on shellfish growers.
Taylor Shellfish Farms and Hama Hama Company are founding members of the coalition, along with shellfish farms in Maine, New York, Massachusetts, Virginia and California.
The coalition, which launched Friday with an event, the Billion Oyster Party in New York City, aims to shine a light on the many ways climate change is already affecting food production in the U.S.
Dewey says Taylor Shellfish Farms is trying to practice what is preaches by reducing the company’s carbon footprint. Already, the company is acquiring hybrid vehicles and encourages employees to use electric cars by installing charging stations at Taylor businesses.