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A Voice for Our Ocean

MEDIA ADVISORY: Gulf Oyster Farmers Meet to Discuss the Threat of Ocean Acidification to Their Businesses

ORANGE BEACH, AL – Leaders from the Northern Gulf region’s shellfish industry are meeting shellfish growers and hatchery managers from different corners of the country to help them as they begin developing responses to the growing threat of ocean acidification to their businesses and coastal communities. The discussion and visits to local shellfish operations organized by Ocean Conservancy will provide an opportunity for an exchange of knowledge between growers, scientists, and other stakeholders from the region on mass shellfish mortality events and its impacts.

Shellfish growers and hatchery managers from the East and West Coasts will share how they have addressed and adapted their operations as they confront the multiple stressors facing their industries from ocean acidification to shellfish diseases, salinity changes and warming waters. Ocean acidification is a change in seawater chemistry that is occurring as a result of carbon emissions being absorbed by the ocean, turning it more acidic. Runoff pollution from fertilizers and waste water also increase acidification. This hinders the population health and growth of oysters, clams, mussels, as well as crabs and corals.

WHO:  

  • Mike Congrove, Hatchery Manager, Oyster Seed Holdings, Gwynn, VA
  • Ian Jefferds, Owner, Penn Cove Shellfish, Coupeville, WA
  • Charlie Phillips, Owner, Sapelo Sea Farms, Townsend, GA
  • Meredith White, Research & Development, Mook Sea Farm, Walpole, ME

WHEN: February 21-23 at 2019 Oyster South Symposium

WHERE:  Island House Hotel, 26650 Perdido Beach Blvd, Orange Beach, AL 36561

MEDIA AVAILABILITY: The four shellfish industry members listed above will be available for interviews before, during and after the meetings to speak to the following:

  • The impacts that climate change is having on coastal communities, cultures and livelihoods – from ocean acidification to ocean warming to sea level rise and coastal flooding.
  • Their experiences and adaptation strategies as they deal with changes in the ocean’s chemistry along with other environmental changes, including the near devastation of the Pacific Northwest’s multi-generation family run operations in the span of a few years by ocean acidification.
  • The latest science on the changing chemistry of the Gulf of Mexico.

Reporters interested in conducting in-person or phone interviews should contact Ocean Conservancy, contact information listed above.

 

STATEMENTS TO THE MEDIA

“Oyster hatcheries are extremely concerned about water quality—we rely on good quality water so that we can provide growers with seed,” said Mike Congrove, Owner, Oyster Seed Holdings. “In Virginia, shellfish hatcheries experience production failure all too often.  We are working collaboratively with other hatcheries and academia in an effort to tease out what role climate change and ocean acidification could be playing in these failures and what can be done to mitigate their effects.”

“We lost a lot of shellfish in the Pacific Northwest because of ocean acidification, and it’s still a threat today,” said Ian Jefferds, Owner, Penn Cove Shellfish. “I want to share our experiences with the growers from the Gulf and other regions as ocean acidification might have bad effects on their growing waters and shellfish crops too—so that as an industry, we may better plan on how to adapt to the challenges this presented going forward.”

“Oyster growers along with other shellfish growers know that we need to better understand how to protect our environment, so that our environment can be healthy and support us,” said Charlie Phillips, Owner, Sapelo Sea Farm. “It’s crucial that we work with policy makers and scientists to move forward tackling the threat of ocean acidification and other environmental challenges that negatively affect our industry and the public’s ability to use our natural resources in safe and productive ways.”

“We’re concerned about climate change and its impacts, like ocean acidification, for the survival of the industry as a whole,” said Meredith White, Research & Development, Mook Sea Farm. “These climate impacts have affected the production and management of our shellfish hatchery in Maine. We want to share what we are learning with our peers in the Gulf, so that we can collectively work with scientists, managers and policymakers on safeguarding our businesses.”

“The shellfish industry collaborates at an unprecedented scale,” said Ryan Ono, Program Manager for Ocean Conservancy. “This week we are seeing them work hard to help each other prepare for and respond to one of the biggest threats ever to their industry – ocean acidification.”

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Ocean Conservancy is working to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. Together with our partners, we create science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it. For more information, visit www.oceanconservancy.org, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.