Seafood Producer’s Guide to Reducing Emissions, v1.1

Global Ocean Health is often asked what seafood producers can do to reduce their carbon emissions. While the emissions produced by the entire worldwide fishing industry are just a fraction of a fraction of a percent of global greenhouse gas production, if we want to stand as stewards of the ocean, it’s better to, “Walk the walk, not just talk the talk.” If seafood producers act as drivers for change, then being able to show you’ve made the effort to cut your own emissions footprint makes your stance more credible. Tackling ocean acidification involves not only driving better education, research, and policy, but also doing your bit to reduce emissions.

For the first time, accurate energy audits have been conducted on small commercial fishing vessels in Alaska, as part of a program initiated by the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF) and Sea Grant. “People in Alaska are familiar with home energy audits and this is basically a similar concept but on a fishing vessel. It becomes more complicated because there are more systems and different types of activities when you’re operating in different fisheries, things like that,” says Julie Decker, Director of AFDF.

The results from the 12 boats in phase one of the study were incorporated into an Energy Analysis Tool to help fishermen understand their vessel’s energy use and what equipment and operational changes could improve usage. In phase two, AFDF plans to launch a simpler version of the survey available via smartphone or over the web and is looking for more vessels to volunteer to participate. “You can see how much your hydraulics are using, or the main engine is drawing when you’re running around from fishery to fishery or how much your DC and AC systems are drawing, whether it’s for refrigeration, or what not,” says Decker. Go to their website to learn more about their energy audits, and read the story on AFDF’s search for volunteer vessels.

The list of possible actions in our guide is by no means complete, and we’d like to hear from you to help us improve it. Have you or your business done something that successfully reduced your carbon output, or encouraged others to do so? How did it turn out as a return on investment? Many companies find they end up saving money when they institute cuts in energy or fuel usage. We’d love to hear your stories, whether concerning your car, home, vessel, or company. And if you have questions for us, feel free to email info@globaloceanhealth. Thanks for reading, and happy fishing.

A few examples:

• Reduce vessel weight – weight control reduces the amount of power necessary to achieve a certain speed

• Maintain the bottom – in order to reduce drag, keep the bottom of the boat as smooth as possibly by removing marine growth and any other unnecessary elements

• Check the exhaust – exhaust from a well-maintained diesel engine is almost invisible

• Check the prop – bent blades, dings, or eroded edges cause the boat to consume more fuel

• Plan the route and timing – taking advantage of tides, currents, and predicted winds can easily save a lot of fuel

• Use a fuel meter on boats, and adjust the throttle to find the “sweet spot” in RPM where fuel consumption drops but speed is sufficient to meet the tides and delivery schedules (see graph below). Installing a simple device like a FloScan meter can help skippers optimize fuel use and vessel speed

• If you run an auxiliary diesel genset or two on your boat, consider a high-efficiency hydraulic generator from GenTech Global- Used with a good fuel meter, this system uses a proprietary software controller to run a generator directly off the main engine (no matter the rpm of the main), replacing a diesel genset, and cutting the cost of generating onboard electrical power in half—or better. The system is particularly valuable for some working vessels that need power for pumps, refrigeration, and other onboard systems

• Consider a Fitch fuel catalyst on your vessel engine. This simple device enhances fuel combustion; reduces emissions, injector fouling, and fuel consumption

• If you ship seafood, avoid airfreight wherever possible- Ship by water if you can, by rail or road otherwise. Airfreight dominates embedded emissions in most products that are shipped by air; it dwarfs everything else

picture of fuel efficiency• Slow down – This graph (extracted from a fuel efficiency audit) shows that increasing speeds greatly increases the power necessary and therefore the amount of fuel consumed. Decreasing your speed by just 1 knots could reduce your fuel cost by as much as 50%

• Got food waste or seafood processing waste? Compost it, or make fuel out of it. If it goes to the landfill, this waste frequently will form methane in the anoxic conditions below ground. Methane has ~21 times the insulating, warming power of CO2. A well-aerated compost pile converts the carbon into new soil material, where it becomes a useful nutrient instead of forming methane. You can also set up a simple biogas digester in a barrel and use it to generate fuel. If you burn it instead of venting it, biogas can replace commercially purchased fuel, shifting some of your energy demand to a carbon-neutral status. Instructions to do this are readily available on YouTube

• Ask your employees- Let your employees know that lowering energy costs and carbon emissions is important to your company. They may have a different perspective that could save you money and make your business greener.

• Don’t run more electrical than you need. Make certain that both on-shore and on-vessel you are not creating needless electrical draw. Turn computers completely off when not in use, as well as chargers, lights, printers – whatever the device, ensuring that small details are taken care of can make a real difference to your bottom line

• Consider adding a wind-powered charger or solar panels

• Keep good records- You only know whether you’re making an improvement (or making things worse) if you have good numbers on vessel performance, both before and after changes. At every fuel-up you should record fuel replaced, operating hours (from your hour meter or engine hour logbook), and if possible, distance traveled. Other observations such as changes in coolant and exhaust temperatures, oil temperatures and pressures, and speed over the ground (as indicated by GPS or LORAN readings) should be logged

• Do the math- Fuel is only one of the costs of your operation. You can’t manage what you don’t measure! Capital expenditure (the price of new equipment) and the value of your time and that of your crew are also costs. The cost of a solution, such as buying a new engine or even a new vessel, may be greater than the savings that could be realized. As fish prices, fuel costs, regulations, and other factors change, it is important to recalculate the trade-offs

• At home, work, or on-vessel – unplug, unplug, unplug. It’s convenient to keep that cell phone charger plugged in, and no harm done, right? Wrong. It continues to draw power even when no device is charging. Many electronics draw power even when turned off  – especially cable boxes; but also DVD/BluRay players, stereos, gaming consoles, etc. And don’t walk away with your computer on – screensavers or “sleep mode” are not the same as off. All these little things add up, and besides making a difference collectively, you might even see a drop in your monthly electricity costs.

RESOURCES:
Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association Fuel Efficiency Initiative
Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program

How Will Cod React to Global Warming? Researchers Subject Fish to High CO2 Levels to Find Out

May 8th, 2014, By Eva Tallaksen, undercurrentnews.com

cod in high co2Scientists in Tromso, Norway, are exposing cod broodstock to high CO2 to find out how the fish will cope as the seas get warmer, and more acidic.

“The idea is to find out, how will ocean acidification affect aquaculture and wild fish?” said Christopher Bridges, zoology professor at the university of Dusseldorf.

It is hoped larvae scooped from five tanks at Nofima’s national cod breeding center will soon yield some clues.

Each tank contained 60 cod broodstock averaging 3-5 kilos in size, exposed to different levels of temperatures and acidity. The fish spawned March and April, and their larvae, which hatched in the past two weeks, are currently being tested.

“The key aspect will be to look at the larvae’s survival rate,” said Bridges.

If global warming continues as some scientists think, the oceans’ CO2 levels could reach 1,000 to 1,200 ppm (parts per million) by 2100, up from just under 400ppm today.

That would take the seas’ pH level down to 7.8, from 8.1 today.

Most the research into the seas’ growing acidity has focused on the impact on fish eggs or larvae, or on habitats. But few have so far focused on its impact on broodstock, said Bridges.

Bridges is one of the scientists involved in the project, which is led by the publicly-funded German Bioacid initiative. Cooperating in the project are Germany’s Geomar and Alfred Wegner Institute, working in Norway under the EU FP7 support project Aquaexcel using the facilities of Nofima.

In two of the tanks, the cod were kept at normal acidity levels (400ppm), but one tank had a temperature of 5 degrees Celcius, and the other 10 degrees. In two other tanks, the fish were exposed to CO2 levels of 1,200 ppm, again with one tank at 5 degrees and the other at 10 degrees.

These four tanks all used broodstock from farmed fish, bred by Nofima’s center. A fifth tank was filled with fish from the wild, but these were caught too late to be used for the experiment.

Read more here

Gulf of Maine Uniquely Susceptible to Ocean Acidification

The Working Waterfont, May 21, 2014. By Heather Deese and Susie Arnold

A recent study led by Aleck Wang, a chemical oceanographer from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, has identified the Gulf of Maine as outstanding in an unfortunate way—more susceptible to pressures of ocean acidification than any other region along the eastern seaboard and Gulf of Mexico.

oysters, maine.Ocean acidification may not be a familiar term for many, but it is a critically important aspect of ocean chemistry for all of us to understand.

Ocean acidification is the changing chemistry of seawater caused by the ocean’s absorption of carbon dioxide (CO2). As CO2 is absorbed into seawater, the resulting reactions decrease the availability of carbonate ions, which are critical building blocks for forming the shells and skeletons of many marine organisms. The process also increases the number of hydrogen ions, which leads to lower pH and greater acidity. Toxic chemicals from storm water, industrial pollution and other runoff that flows into the ocean also can contribute to acidification of coastal waters.

Wang and his colleagues think the Gulf of Maine’s susceptibility may be due to a few different factors. Fresh and cold water holds more CO2, and the Gulf of Maine has a lot of colder and fresher water coming in from the Labrador Current, in addition to a large proportion of fresh water from rivers. Also, the semi-enclosed shape of the Gulf tends to hold this more acidic water.

Around the same time this study came out, researchers in Alaska published disturbing results on the impacts of ocean acidification on Red King Crab and Tanner crabs. Their laboratory studies showed decreased survival and growth in low pH water in both species and 100 percent mortality of Red King Crab larvae after 95 days in acidification scenarios predicted for the end of this century.

A few months later, a scallop aquaculture operation in British Colombia appeared to become the latest commercial victim of ocean acidification with a massive die-off.

Oyster aquaculturists on the West Coast have been responding to die-offs for nearly ten years and within the last several years their onsite pH monitoring has confirmed the link to acidification. Upwelling conditions in the Pacific Northwest, which bring cold water to the surface, tend to have lower pH than surface water. The pH of this water has decreased further in recent decades due to increasing atmospheric CO2 and pollutants that run from the land into the ocean.

Rep. Mick Devin, D-Newcastle, who also is a marine biologist at the University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center, has been concerned about the vulnerability of Maine’s marine ecosystems and fisheries-dependent communities to this unfolding threat. Last fall, he proposed LD 1602, which would establish a commission to study the effects of coastal and ocean acidification on species that are commercially harvested and grown along the Maine coast.

Thanks to support from diverse interest groups, including fishing and aquaculture industries, coastal community members, environmental groups, state agencies and others, the bill became law April 30.

Scientists still don’t know exactly how changing chemistry will impact the various life stages of most marine organisms, particularly a lot of commercially important species. For example, there is still very little known about the possible impacts on lobsters.

Read more here

New Ocean Acidification Study to Launch in Prince William Sound

AOOS.org, By Darcy Dugan, April 29th, 2014

Beginning this week, two surface wave gliders, resembling yellow surfboards, will be cruising around Prince William Sound as part of a five-month monitoring program to measure ocean acidification. Simultaneously, state-of-the-art instrumentation installed on a glacier tour boat will monitor glacial runoff while an underwater autonomous glider will patrol beneath the surface looking for plumes of water that could be harmful to some species.

A remote-controlled glider, similar to the one shown here, will measure ocean acidification in Prince William Sound from May to September. Photo credit: Richard Feely, NOAA/PMEL

A remote-controlled glider, similar to the one shown here, will measure ocean acidification in Prince William Sound from May to September. Photo credit: Richard Feely, NOAA/PMEL

The project, funded mostly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Ocean Acidification Program, is led by Dr. Jeremy Mathis of the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and Dr. Wiley Evans from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Ocean Acidification Research Center in partnership with the Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS).

Scientists estimate that the ocean is 25% more acidic today than it was 300 years ago, largely due to increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning fossil fuels and changes in land use. Almost half of the CO2 emitted remains in the atmosphere, with the land and ocean absorbing the rest. When the ocean absorbs CO2, its pH balance changes through a process called ocean acidification. Because cold water can absorb more CO2 than warm water, acidification can disproportionately impact coastal regions around Alaska.

Recent publications by Dr. Mathis and Dr. Evans have shown that the process of ocean acidification may be worsened around tidewater glaciers due to the freshwater melt plumes that occur is summer and fall. “The glacier melt plumes have some really unique chemistry that can exacerbate ocean acidification and impact the environment in Prince William Sound and out into the Gulf of Alaska,” Mathis said. “Our goal is to use the latest technology to find out what’s happening so we can communicate that to Alaska residents and stakeholders.”

According to AOOS Executive Director Molly McCammon, the research effort builds upon the partnership developed with the OA Research Center at UAF to support statewide OA monitoring. The consortium supports five buoys around the State, as well as twice a year sampling in the Gulf of Alaska, and development of a Gulf of Alaska OA forecast model. Data from the monitoring efforts will be available on both the AOOS website and the UAF’s OA Research Center website. “With this new effort, we’re increasing our ability to view and understand Alaska’s oceans in four dimensions – two dimension space, depth and time.”

When completed in early September, the study will have provided the longest continuous observations of ocean acidification in Alaska to date. “We are very proud to have the opportunity to partner with AOOS and be the leaders in glider technology in Alaska,” said Mathis. “This work could be a game-changer in our understanding of how ocean acidification will impact our state.”

Lawmakers Pass East Coast’s First Ocean Acidification Bill

Maine Insights, By Ramona Du Houx, April 18th, 2014

The Legislature on Thursday passed the East Coast’s first bill to address the threat of ocean acidification as the Senate gave the measure its final approval with a vote of 33-0. The bill, LD 1602, now goes to Gov. Paul LePage.

“Maine has the opportunity to lead on this issue,” said Rep. Mick Devin, the bill’s sponsor and a marine biologist. “The overwhelming support for my bill shows that Maine understands that ocean acidification is a real problem. It poses a threat to our coastal environment and the jobs that depend on it. We must address this threat head-on.”

The measure would establish a commission to study and address the negative effects of ocean acidification on the ecosystem and major inshore shellfisheries. The committee membership would be made up of stakeholders including fishermen, aquaculturists, scientists and legislators.

Rising levels of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use are causing changes in ocean chemistry. As carbon dioxide and seawater combine, carbonic acid forms. Carbonic acid can dissolve the shells of shellfish, an important commercial marine resource. Over the past two centuries, ocean acidity levels have increased 30 percent.

If left unchecked, ocean acidification could cause major losses to shellfisheries like clams, oysters, lobsters, shrimp and sea urchins and put at risk thousands of jobs and billions of dollars to the state’s economy.

Shellfish hatcheries on the West Coast have failed in recent years due to 60 to 80 percent production losses caused by ocean chemistry changes, which can take place quickly. A 2007 study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration discovered changes in ocean chemistry not expected for another 50 to 100 years on the West Coast.

Devin’s bill is one of the key legislative issues of the Environmental Priorities Coalition this year. The coalition cited research that found the Gulf of Maine is more susceptible to the effects of ocean acidification than other parts of the East Coast.

Read more here

Ocean Acidification Impairs Vermetid Reef Recruitment

Feb 28th, 2014, Nature.com

Vermetids form reefs in sub-tropical and warm-temperate waters that protect coasts from erosion, regulate sediment transport and accumulation, serve as carbon sinks and provide habitat for other species. The gastropods that form these reefs brood encapsulated larvae; they are threatened by rapid environmental changes since their ability to disperse is very limited. We used transplant experiments along a natural CO2 gradient to assess ocean acidification effects on the reef-building gastropod Dendropoma petraeum. We found that although D. petraeum were able to reproduce and brood at elevated levels of CO2, recruitment success was adversely affected. Long-term exposure to acidified conditions predicted for the year 2100 and beyond caused shell dissolution and a significant increase in shell Mg content. Unless CO2 emissions are reduced and conservation measures taken, our results suggest these reefs are in danger of extinction within this century, with significant ecological and socioeconomic ramifications for coastal systems.

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Mediterranean vermetid reefs.

(A) A pristine vermetid reef at low tide in NW Sicily, Italy. (B) Collection of a vermetid core in the outer rim of a vermetid reef; black spots are the shell openings of Dendropoma petraeum cemented by the coralline alga Neogoniolithon brassica-florida. (C) A vermetid core transplanted in the intertidal off Vulcano Island. (D) A recruit newly settled on the coralline alga (top left) and the shell opening with the operculum of a D. petraeum adult (below). Photo credits: R.C. (A); M.M. (B,C); M.M. and M.F. (D)

Sea Change: Pacific Ocean Takes Perilous Turn

By Craig Welch, The Seattle Times

Ocean acidification, the lesser-known twin of climate change, threatens to scramble marine life on a scale almost too big to fathom.

NORMANBY ISLAND, Papua New Guinea — Katharina Fabricius plunged from a dive boat into the Pacific Ocean of tomorrow.

She kicked through blue water until she spotted a ceramic tile attached to the bottom of a reef.

A year earlier, the ecologist from the Australian Institute of Marine Science had placed this small square near a fissure in the sea floor where gas bubbles up from the earth. She hoped the next generation of baby corals would settle on it and take root.

Fabricius yanked a knife from her ankle holster, unscrewed the plate and pulled it close. Even underwater the problem was clear. Tiles from healthy reefs nearby were covered with budding coral colonies in starbursts of red, yellow, pink and blue. This plate was coated with a filthy film of algae and fringed with hairy sprigs of seaweed.

Instead of a brilliant new coral reef, what sprouted here resembled a slimy lake bottom.

Isolating the cause was easy. Only one thing separated this spot from the lush tropical reefs a few hundred yards away.

Carbon dioxide.

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European Union is funding a €3.6 million shellfish study to understand affects of OA

A team of international scientists has launched an ambitious mission to understand how the warming and acidification of the world’s oceans will affect Europe’s shellfish.

Currently scientists do not fully understand how species such as oysters, mussels, scallops and clams produce their shells, or how a change in environment will affect their populations. To address this, the European Union is funding a €3.6 million programme called CACHE (Calcium in a Changing Environment).

Coordinated by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) in Cambridge this multi-national programme, which aims to train a new generation of marine scientists, will look at every aspect of how the animals produce their shells and strive to identify populations which are resilient to climate change.

The shellfish industry is an important contributor to the European marine economy – dubbed the “Blue economy” – which is currently worth €500 billion every year and provides an estimated 5.4 million jobs.

These relatively small animals play an important role in the oceans because they are a crucial part of marine biodiversity and, as they make their shells out of calcium carbonate, they have a role in absorbing CO2. While the fishery industry built around them provides jobs in rural communities the animals themselves are also seen as an important and healthy food.

Shellfish have been highlighted as being particularly at risk under future climate change scenarios.

The risk comes because their shells are made of calcium carbonate – a substance which dissolves under acidic conditions. As the oceans become warmer and more acidic their shells will either thin, or the animals will have to expend more energy on producing thicker shells. This will affect their population sizes and the quality of the meat they produce, directly affecting the fisheries economy and damaging consumer choice.

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Ocean Acidification Linked to Larval Oyster Failure

ScienceDaily (Apr. 11, 2012) — Researchers at Oregon State University have definitively linked an increase in ocean acidification to the collapse of oyster seed production at a commercial oyster hatchery in Oregon, where larval growth had declined to a level considered by the owners to be “non-economically viable.”

A study by the researchers found that elevated seawater carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, resulting in more corrosive ocean water, inhibited the larval oysters from developing their shells and growing at a pace that would make commercial production cost-effective. As atmospheric CO2 levels continue to rise, this may serve as the proverbial canary in the coal mine for other ocean acidification impacts on shellfish, the scientists say.

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A screen covered with oyster larvae, taken in 2007 at the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery near Netarts Bay, Ore. A 2012 study has found that Increasingly acidic ocean water is preventing larvae from developing shells. (Credit: Lynn Ketchum, Oregon State University)

Algae and Puget Sound Acidification Linked

The ocean absorbs a large portion of the CO2 that we release into the atmosphere from our power plants and tail pipes. But when it gets there that CO2 makes the water more acidic and less hospitable for some creatures, like shellfish. In Puget Sound some shellfish hatcheries have already lost millions of oyster larvae because of exposure to acidic water.

Ocean acidification has scientists and policymakers in the Northwest concerned. Washington Governor Chris Gregoire has convened a panel on Ocean Acidification, which met this week. Ashley Ahearn reports.

Remember those little pieces of paper you used to measure pH back in junior high school? You’d stick them into your can of coke or on your tongue and the color would tell you how acidic that liquid was?

Well if you stuck litmus paper into the world’s oceans it would come out closer and closer to the acidic side of the pH scale.

Feeley: “The acidity of the ocean has increased by 30 % over the last 250 years.”

Read more here