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Scientists say carbon emissions could harm marine life in Atlantic Canada

Ocean acidification topic of discussion at climate change congress
WATCH ABOVE: Scientists are studying how carbon dioxide levels affect maritime life in Atlantic Canada, and the news isn’t good. Global’s Adrienne South explains.

Scientific researchers have found a link between carbon dioxide absorption in oceans and negative affects on marine life.

Carbon emissions are impacting marine ecosystems, Dr. Kumiko Azetsu-Scott, a Fisheries and Ocean Canada research scientist at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, said.

“Ocean acidification occurs when people emit allot of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by driving a car, and using electricity generated by fossil fuel burning, or coal burning; and those are created in the atmosphere and some of them go into the ocean and the ocean gets acidic because of it,” Azetsu-Scott said.

Azetsu-Scott told Global News that every year, approximately a quarter of all CO2 emissions are absorbed by oceans, which change the pH levels.

“When marine ecosystem changes, fish can be affected, but most directly impacted would be the shell fish, such as oysters, scallops, muscles, and lobsters and crab species,” Azetsu-Scott said.

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There are long-term impacts on shell fish, according to Heather Hunt, University of New Brunswick Coordinator of the Marine semester at the Saint John campus.

“It’s changing the pH of the ocean, as well as we have more CO2 and it’s also changing the availability of carbonate ions.  Carbonate ions are important because there’s a a lot of marine animals that build skeletons or shells out of carbonate.  So if there’s less carbonate available for them then we have worries about them their shells not being able to grow as well or in some cases even potentially dissolving,” Hunt said,

Azetsu-Scott presented her research to scientists from across the world at the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society’s 50th Congress and joint annual Canadian Geophysical Union meeting, which is taking place in Fredericton from May 29 until June 2.

President of The Canadian Geophysical Union Claire Samson chaired Azetsu-Scott’s session Monday.

“This is an important issue for Canada because it effects colder waters and we are surrounded by cold waters, so knowing more about this phenomenon is important for long-term understanding of the cold water environment for fish and living creatures in the ocean,” Samson said.

Samson says ocean acidification is a cause of concern and carbon emissions need to be reduced, in order to protect aquatic life and sustain the population of marina creatures in Atlantic Canada.

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“It’s the time to take action now, so that we will avoid these negative repercussions in decades to come,” Samson said.

Samson says it’s a serious matter and something the public shouldn’t take lightly.

“These are not alarmist propositions from you know people who don’t know, this is a cautious and important statement from a very knowledgeable scientist,” Samson said.