It really doesn’t matter whether you get your food from plants, livestock, birds, fish, shellfish, or crustaceans. Unless you’re already mentally prepared to eat June bugs and cockroaches, you should be prepared for a drastic drop in food availability, as climate change whacks our sources.
Today’s threatened food supply: shellfish. Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of clams & oysters & suchlike (though I’ve enjoyed snails and once or twice had a good time eating some mussels) — but this ain’t about what I like, it’s about what people eat in order to stay alive.
LONDON, 22 January – Ocean acidification brings fresh problems for Californian native oysters. Like some creature from a horror movie, a driller killer threatens Ostrea lurida, the Olympia oyster that dwells in the estuaries of western North America.
Many species are likely to face problems as pH levels (which measure how acid a liquid is) change and ocean chemistry begins to alter as the world warms and ever more dissolved carbon dioxide flows into the sea and adds to its acidity.
Researchers have observed that coral skeletons are affected and larval oysters find it more difficult to build their first shell structures.
Oh, The Oyster Is Our Friend
This summer, a survey indicated that the northern shrimp stock was at its lowest level since the annual trawl survey began in 1984. A report released Nov. 21 by the fisheries commission’s Northern Shrimp Technical Committee concluded that the stock has collapsed.
The report recommended a moratorium on shrimping in 2014 to maximize the species’ spawning potential. It attributed the collapse in part to warming ocean temperatures.
Regulators said the warming ocean and the absence of the normal springtime surge of plankton, a critical link at the bottom of the ocean’s food chain, have hurt northern shrimp. Predation by other fish species and overfishing a few years ago also contributed to the collapse.
Are lobsters the new symbol of climate change?
The answer, increasingly, is yes. Lobster populations are exploding in the Gulf of Maine, but are plummeting in the waters of southern New England. In 2012, the Gulf of Maine set a record catch of 126 million pounds, double the average of a decade before and six times the average of the 1980s.
Meanwhile, annual lobster landings in Buzzards Bay were just 72,000 pounds last year, down from 400,000 pounds in the late 1990s and from just under a million pounds in the 1980s, according to Massachusetts state lobster biologist Bob Glenn.
The population loss is likely due to warmer waters and disease that may be associated with such water. “We just watched a geological event occur in about a decade,” Glenn said. Scientists speculate that the population boom in Maine is also due to record warm waters, which fueled massive early productions, as well as the overfishing of ground fish that eat lobsters.
The Lobster Fishing Song