Adaptation pathways and barriers for Pacific Northwest shellfisheries vulnerable to ocean acidification

Authors: Brian Katz*,
Topics: Hazards and Vulnerability, Marine and Coastal Resources, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: adaptation pathways, barriers, social vulnerability, shellfisheries, ocean acidification, Pacific Northwest
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 43
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


People who rely on shellfish in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) are having to adapt to the impacts of ocean acidification (OA) on culturally and economically important shellfish species at different life stages. In the mid-to-late 2000’s, OA in the PNW led to a prolonged shortage of shellfish seed from OA-attributed impacts on early life stages of shellfish. Responsive state legislatures leveraged long-standing research relationships and unlocked resources, which allowed shellfish hatcheries to begin buffering the pH of hatchery intake water, averting a crisis that might have had more long-lasting impacts. To inform decisions about how and where to invest in adaptation to OA, this study aims to identify OA triggers at other shellfish life stages that prompt adaptive actions. Specifically, it investigates what adaptation measures can be taken at key production stages, and what barriers to adaptation prevent successful adaptation. Interviews were conducted with shellfish-reliant stakeholders across the PNW. Interviewees were classified into watershed groups and asked to identify problems at each shellfish life stage (larvae, juvenile, adult). Themes coded from interviews were used to identify barriers and develop an adaptation pathway for stakeholders reliant on shellfish at all life stages. Results indicate that despite improvements in seed production, the combination of OA and industry consolidation is leading to seed access problems, a notable barrier reported by shellfish producers; and suggest that adaptation investments should make explicit efforts to ensure benefits are distributed equitably across affected stakeholders in order to avoid lifting barriers for some while exacerbating barriers for others.

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