Sea scallops buoy a coastal town but climate change is likely to alter ocean waters

Image courtesy of Ntl. Institute for Occupational Safety & Health

The Port of New Bedford employs over 4,000 people and is the highest ranking seaport in the country in terms of the dollar value of the seafood landed. Eighty percent of its revenue comes from sea scallops, a high-value species. In a city that faces economic hardships otherwise, the fishing industry is important to supporting the livelihoods of many residents, and is an important part of the cultural identity of the region.

Despite New Bedford’s excellent position in the seafood industry, there are likely to be significant challenges going forward, as ocean waters warm and acidify and shellfish decline as a result of climate change. Southeastern Massachusetts is one of the most vulnerable regions in the country to the impacts of ocean acidification. Evidence available points to the need to address these issues now – in New Bedford and other vulnerable communities - and begin taking steps to ensuring marine ecosystem resiliency, and solutions that enable shellfish-dependent economies to develop adaptive solutions.

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