Acid seas will reduce Belize’s conch harvest

By Benjamin Flowers
Staff Reporter

Climate change is having its effect on the oceans as much as it does on land, experts at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) said this week.
The Center has measured an increase in the acid content of the oceans. This will have a direct impact on marine life, and upon the livelihood of many Belizeans because of lower marine exports.

The Center’s Executive Director, Dr. Kenrick Leslie of Belize, warned that greenhouse gas (GHGs), the same gas responsible for global warming, is just as detrimental to oceans through acidification as it is to the atmosphere through global warming.

Leslie pointed to activities such as mining, the demand for construction material and deforestation, as contributors to the climate problem Belize is facing and will face in the years to come.

“What happens on the land will eventually reach the sea, via our rivers”, Leslie told the media this week.

Ocean acidification occurs when carbon dioxide is absorbed by seawater. This causes a chemical reaction that reduces the alkaline nature of the water and makes it more acidic.

The effect of the acid is to reduce calcium carbonate, an element which is essential for the skeletal systems and shells for many marine creatures. .
Acidification also affects coral reefs where many marine species make their homes.
.Marine exports make up 25 percent of Belize’s national exports for 2014, according to the latest data released by the Statistical Institute of Belize.
While the industry experienced growth of some $11.6 million this year, most of that is due to shrimp farming, which occurs on the land.

Conch is Belize’s second largest marine export, and conch is very susceptible to ocean acidification.

Belize has been working with international partners such as the European Union to address climate change and the many problems it causes.

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