Mass-death of Canadian scallops – Fishfarmer Magazine

Mass-death of Canadian scallops28 February, 2014 –

THREE years’ worth of scallops, worth more than Canadian $10 million, has been wiped out at a shellfish producer in British Columbia.

According to local sources, the bivalves were victims of rising acidity in the waters off the west coast of Canada.

Speaking to the Parksville Qualicum Beach News, the CEO of Island Scallops, Rob Saunders said:

‘I’m not sure we are going to stay alive and I’m not sure the oyster industry is going to stay alive, it’s that dramatic.’

Saunders went on to explain that the PH levels in the waters of the Georgia Strait, where the scallops are raised and harvested, had dropped from 8.2 to 7.3 in less than a year, a devastating increase in ocean acidity.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ocean acidification is the reaction between seawater and carbon dioxide, producing carbonic acid.

Island Scallops seeds its animals at its hatchery in Qualicum Bay and they are reared in the ocean in small net cages attached to horizontal ‘longlines’, which are submerged about 10 metres below the surface.

From hatchery to harvest takes about three years, and the company has lost all of the scallops put into the bay in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

‘The high acidity level means the scallops can’t make their shells and they are less robust and they are susceptible to infection’, explained Saunders. ‘It’s really kicked the hell out of us.’

Whilst this particular tragedy has affected an individual producer, NOAA research indicates that ocean acidification is on the rise, a finding that will be deeply disturbing to other seafood producers.