The recent die-off of about 10 million scallops at a Qualicum Beach business is highlighting a major issue that could mean the future of all BC shellfish is at risk. Island Scallops near Parksville has been forced to lay off a third of their workforce because of the loss. They say it’s due to low pH levels in the water. It’s a problem that’s being noticed around the world and it’s otherwise known as ocean acidification.
Helen Gurney-Smith is a scientist at VIU’s Centre for Shellfish Research. She says changes in the ocean, like rising in CO2 levels, are threatening coastal ecosystems and the economy.
She says the oyster industry in the US is suffering because of changes in the ocean, and the impact to BC’s shellfish industry could be devastating. Gurney-Smith says they’re hoping to launch a research initiative in the fall with international collaborators, to monitor the impact of ocean acidification on shellfish species and overall ecosystem health. She says that research would be federally funded, so they’re waiting to hear if they’ll get the financial resources they need.