A new study was released last week essentially saying something Alaskans have been hearing for quite a while — the acidity levels in Alaska’s fish-rich waters pose an increasingly high danger to the fish and shellfish populations, and therefore, those Alaskans who depend on the oceans for their income and their subsistence stores.
The study was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and looked at the economic impacts likely to occur in various regions of Alaska as a result of increasing vulnerability of shellfish and the species that depend on shellfish, such as salmon, who eat pteropods, tiny shell-bearing creatures. Naturally, the hardest hit regions were along the coastline of Alaska. And because the economic impacts are predicted to be so widespread — 29 population centers were identified as likely to be hit hard by the impacts of ocean acidification — hub cities like Anchorage were likely to suffer as well. The study pointed out Alaska’s widespread dependence on the sea for its livelihood. Mess with the sea, and Alaskans are in trouble, essentially.
Ocean acidification, apparently, works in much the same way as climate change — Alaska and other Arctic regions bear the brunt of the rest of the world’s pollution as well as our own. In the case of climate change, the impacts are more magnified in Alaska than other areas of the world, though no region is unchanged by rapidly changing weather patterns and the impacts of melting Arctic sea ice.
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