Can seaweed save oysters from acidification?

The oceans absorb about half of all human emissions of carbon dioxide. That extra carbon makes the water more acidic and interferes with the ability of clams, mussels, and oysters to build strong shells.

For help keeping the fishery productive, researchers are turning to an unexpected ally: a fast-growing type of seaweed called kelp.

Kelp absorbs carbon during photosynthesis. So Jan Newton of the University of Washington says scientists believe that growing and then removing kelp before it decays may take enough carbon out of the water to provide a better environment for shellfish.

To test the approach, scientists began planting floating beds of kelp offshore this past spring. And over the next two years, Newton and her colleagues will monitor CO2 levels in the surrounding waters.

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About the author

Jessica Hathaway

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman. She has been covering the fishing industry for 13 years, serves on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s Communications Committee and is a National Fisheries Conservation Center board member.

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