First-Hand knowledge of BC ocean change: Oyster farmers’ experiences of environmental change and oyster die-off events

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Author: Morin, Evie
Recent studies call for transdisciplinary research to address the consequences of anthropogenic change on human-environment systems, like the impact of ocean acidification (OA) on oyster aquaculture. I surveyed oyster farmers in coastal British Columbia, Canada, about their first-hand experiences of ocean change. Farmers reported that oyster mortality (die-off events) is one of many challenges they face and is likely related to several interacting environmental factors, including water temperature and oyster food, particularly in 2016. I examined temperature, productivity, and carbonate chemistry conditions from 2013 to 2017 using available observations and the Salish Sea model, to understand poor oyster growing conditions in 2016. While temperatures were relatively high and chlorophyll relatively low during the 2016 spring bloom, carbonate conditions were relatively good, suggesting OA was not a key driver of difficult oyster growing conditions. This work provides a novel example of using local knowledge to better inform scientific investigation and adaptation to environmental change.
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