CO2 and a Fisherman’s View of

Ocean Acidity


After the Maine Ocean & Coastal Association Partnership meeting, Partnership member Richard Nelson expressed concern that they were almost dropping CO2 efforts from their agenda and the West Coast study (see below) only reinforced those thoughts. With that in mind Nelson wrote a comment to the Maine Public Utilities Commission and the Department of Environmental Protection Commissioners from an Ocean Acidity and fisherman’s standpoint supporting the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative which is up for review. The comment appears here in full.

November 29, 2016


I am writing to provide comments to the program review of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative for 2016, believing that perhaps I can offer a rather unique perspective from one who is both a commercial lobster fisherman, and one who has kept informed and involved with energy issues in the region through serving on Maine’s Ocean Acidification Commission as well as Maine’s Regional Ocean Planning Advisory Group. For over 30 years I have fished out of Friendship Maine, a small village in which 200 of its 1,200 residents hold commercial fishing licenses and 2 of its 3 visible businesses are a boat shop and a lobster trap manufacturer. Certainly it is a community reliant on a healthy ocean and its resources.

Fishermen who work on the ocean, live day to day with the effects of small changes in climate and the changes caused ocean warming, increased severity of weather events and ocean acidification. We are also solely dependent on a resource that must be managed intelligently and effectively and, at the same time, remain accessible to us. This has become particularly evident over the last couple of years with multiple scientific reports being released, verifying our own observations on the rise of water temperatures in the Gulf of Maine, problems with invasive species, collapse of cod and shrimp stocks, and the widespread shifting of species from one area to another. As a lobsterman, I can add to that list; lobster shell disease, marked changes in their molt cycles and reproductive maturity, and a migration into deeper waters. All evidence would suggest that any measures that would reduce the use of fossil fuels along with CO2 emissions would also limit the detrimental effects of climate change and ocean acidification that threaten our industry. This is supported by the recommendations of Maine’s own Ocean Acidification Commission Report as well as countless scientific studies, including an ongoing NOAA study linking anthropogenic CO2 to the dissolution of shells in Pteropods, which are part of the ocean’s food chain.

My recommendation is that you fully consider and look to maximize the benefits that would come from the 5% carbon reduction plan to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. These goals would go a long way in helping to sustain Maine’s fisheries, both as a part of what makes Maine special and as the economic drivers they have become. Thanks for your attention.

Richard C. Nelson
F/V Pescadero
Friendship, Maine

NOAA has released a story on it’s West Coast study linking Human-caused CO2 to OA events off the coast. Particularly as to Pteropod’s shell building abilities: http://www.noaa.gov/media-release/noaa-research-links-human-caused-co2-emissions-to-dissolving-sea-snail-shells-off-us OR fishermensvoice.com.