British Columbian company Island Scallops has reported a loss of three year’s worth of product due to high ocean acidity caused by carbon dioxide pollution. Around 10 million scallops have perished in the hatchery since 2010. CEO Rob Saunders told the press that the company has lost about 95 percent of its crop, a phenomenon he says is playing out worldwide. As a result, the company has had to lay off 10 people, about 30 percent of its workforce.
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According to Saunders, the normal pH level of the water has gone from 8.1 in a normal year to 7.3 – the most acidic level he’s seen in his 35 years of shellfish farming. This leaves the shellfish unable to produce hard shells and stave off potential infections. While Island Scallops has another three million animals in the water at the moment, it remains to be seen whether the population (or the company) will be able to recover. At the moment, the company has lost about $10 million over the past three years.
Scallops aren’t the only shellfish that are being hit hard by the pollution. Oyster farms in the region have lost animals in the billions since 2005. Some companies in the Northwest have been forced to actually relocate their operations or completely change the way they grow their crop. The increasingly acidic oceans are even slowly killing king crabs and coral reefs. With government agencies slow to act on climate change, private foundations like the X Prize are offering incentives to spur researchers to come up with a solution to the deadly rise in the ocean’s CO2.