Updated: 17 Minutes agoPublished: 17 minutes ago
Like many shellfish growers, I got into this business because I love the ocean – and because I’m deeply concerned about its future.
Growing up, I served as my father’s deckhand, and in the process, I gained an appreciation for just how precious our oceans are – and how fragile. During my father’s six decades as a fisherman, the amount of fish in our oceans dropped more than 60%. Climate change without drastic action could cost us dearly Sixth of all remaining marine life.
I realized this and decided to try my hand at oyster, mussel, or kelp farming. This is a way to give back the waters I grew up in and ensure that they are productive and vibrant for future generations. Bivalves are one our most sustainable protein sources. They are also very nutritious. Few inputs and emissionsThey can also be produced carbon sequestrationIn their shells provide habitatFor all other species Filter water, Protect our shorelinesAgainst rising sea levels and severe storms
While I take great pride at my work to protect our oceans and the people who care about them can only do so much. This is the most significant challenge our species has faced. Our legislators must lead a coordinated effort across the nation to solve it.
Because Alaska is the The fastest warming stateLegislators in this region should be especially motivated to address climate change. This rapid change has serious implications across the shellfish supply chain, from farms like mine to Americans’ dinner plates.
For us, one of the most damaging effects of Alaska’s warmer temperatures has been glacial melt. Our glaciers are melting fasterIt is more than any other place in the world, meaning that it has a lot of freshwater. Draining into the oceanIt dramatically changes its character Salinity and acidity. Bivalves are sensitive creatures, and any sudden shift can kill off an entire year’s harvest – as I know from personal experience. Since we’re one of the largest oyster producers in the state, mass mortality events can significantly impact the restaurants and families who rely on us as a food source.
But glacial melt is only one of many challenges we’re grappling with. Warming water ocean acidification… toxic Algal blooms, foodborne illnesses changing ocean currents are similarly undermining the viability of Alaska’s shellfish farms. As the Largest seafood supplierWe have a lot of things to lose in the country: the industry Directly employs more workers than any other private sector, accounts for about 10 percent the state’s economic output, and contributes significantly to local and national food security. Given these statistics, it’s no surprise that nearly 80 percent of Alaskan votersConcerned about the impact of climate change on commercial fishing,
Though some climate impacts are already locked in for decades, the worst-case scenario is not a foregone conclusion – yet. In fact, we have the solutions we need to limit warming to 1.5 degrees and prepare for greater weather extremes, but we’re quickly running out of time to implement them.
The Build Back better Act is a good place for you to start. It will accelerate the transition from renewable energy, encourage climate smart agriculture, and preserve private forest. It will also help coastal communities build resilience against natural disasters, update hatchery infrastructure, and fund ocean-related research.
As a shellfish farmer, I’m honored to do my part to care for this breathtakingly beautiful place I call home. We must do more to ensure that Alaska remains a safe and prosperous environment for our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan can join us in the fight for Alaska’s future.
Weatherly BatesCo-owner and operator of Alaska Shellfish Farms in Homer, Alaska. He is also a member of The Shellfish Growers Climate Coalition.
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