Can kelp help protect shellfish from ocean acidification?



BAR HARBOR — Marine scientist Susie Arnold of the Island Institute will discuss research about kelp farming and ocean acidification Monday, March 9 at 5 p.m. at the MDI Biological Laboratory, as part of the laboratory’s Science Café series.

Maine’s scenic coastlines and long-established fisheries contribute to the state’s economy, making Maine vulnerable to the effects of ocean acidification from both an environmental and socio-economic perspective.

To address this vulnerability, Maine was the first East Coast state to convene a legislatively established commission, tasked with understanding increased ocean acidification and the potential impacts on commercially important species.

Arnold has been part of a joint research effort, undertaken by Island Institute, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and aquaculture industry collaborators, to better understand the role of growing and harvesting macroalgae in capturing carbon, and to determine potential benefits of co-cultivating kelp or other macrophytes alongside farmed shellfish.

On small spatial scales, cultivated seaweed may create a “halo” of improved conditions for growing shellfish by removing enough CO2 to mitigate acidification.

At the Café, Arnold will summarize the research findings of the first three years of the ongoing project, which is working to determine if co-cultivation strategies can improve shellfish production in the face of rising acidification in Maine’s coastal waters.

Arnold holds a master’s degree in Marine Policy and a doctoral degree in Marine Biology from the University of Maine. She studies the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on marine resources and fisheries-dependent communities.

Her current areas of focus include researching the environmental benefits of cultivating edible seaweed, working with fishermen on business diversification to include shellfish and seaweed aquaculture and helping coastal communities to better understand the implications of sea level rise in order to inform policy decisions.

The presentation will be held in the Maine Center for Biomedical Innovation building on the MDIBL campus in Salisbury Cove. Contact 288-3147 or visit mdibl.org/events.

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