British Columbia

Ocean acidification behind rise in price of B.C. shellfish

The shellfish industry in B.C. is blaming global warming for a rise in the price of scallops and oysters.

'When we try to get our animals to reproduce ... they have difficulty creating their shell,' say hatcheries

The price of shellfish like oysters continues to rise as oceans become more acidic says the BC Shellfish Grower's Association. (Getty Images)

Scallops and oysters have long been among B.C.'s signature seafood stocks, but there is now concern that with oceans becoming more acidic, shellfish are struggling to survive

"It means the product will become more expensive with time," said Roberta Stevenson who speaks for the BC Shellfish Grower's Association. "Always when you have more demand than supply we are able to raise our prices."

According to Statistics Canada, the price of seafood in Canada rose close to three per cent over the past year.

Stevenson says as waters grow more acidic, farmers are seeing a direct impact on the health of their shellfish, specifically their ability to procreate.

"The concern is in the hatcheries when we try to get our animals to reproduce in a hatchery setting at day eight they have a difficulty creating their shell because of the acidity in the water," she said.

The health of shellfish in B.C has been in the news as a massive toxic algae bloom triggered a shellfish closure in June, 2015 off the coast of Vancouver Island. Growers suffered during a month-long ban from public consumption of the foods after people fell ill.

Stevenson says the industry is trying to find genomic solutions that would help scallops and oysters produce a more acid-resilient shell.


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