US ocean scientist Dr Todd Capson considers the challenge
of ocean acidification. Photo by Craig Baxter.
There is no room for complacency about the threat ocean
acidification poses to New Zealand's lucrative shellfish
That warning came yesterday from a leading United States
ocean scientist and policy adviser, Dr Todd Capson, of the
US-linked Sustainable Fisheries Partnership.
Dr Capson is in Dunedin to give a talk today on ''Protecting
our global ocean heritage'' at the University of Otago's 49th
annual Foreign Policy School.
Dr Capson, of Washington, DC, helped initiate a joint US-New
Zealand ocean acidification workshop held in Nelson last
year. Since a major blow in 2007 to aquaculture efforts in
the US northwest, including Washington State, the US industry
had been well aware of the dangers posed by ocean
acidification, he said.
New Zealand was not facing immediate damage to its
$350-million-a-year aquaculture industry, but there was
growing concern within the New Zealand industry and among
government agencies about the need to avoid future problems.
''A lot of people see it as a tsunami,'' he said.
It was not a question of if ocean acidification would affect
New Zealand, but when, and that could be within five to 10
''This is Chemistry 101- it's entirely straightforward,'' he
Excessive human production of carbon dioxide, including
through burning fossil fuels, increased the amount of carbon
dioxide absorbed in the world's oceans, increasing in
carbonic acid production.
And then there was a reduction in the carbonate needed to
create the calcium carbonate used to build shells for
Much was to be gained through international collaboration,
and New Zealand was developing a world-leading coastal
network to monitor acidification levels, he said.