The economic impacts of ocean acidification on shellfish fisheries and aquaculture in the United Kingdom
Ocean acidification may pose a major threat to commercial fisheries, especially those for calcifying shellfish species. This study was undertaken to estimate the potential economic costs resulting from ocean acidification on UK wild capture and aquaculture shellfish production. Applying the net present value (NPV) and partial equilibrium (PE) models, we estimate both direct and economy-wide economic losses of shellfish production by 2100. Estimates using the NPV method show that the direct potential losses due to reduced shellfish production range from 14% to 28% of fishery NPV. This equates to annual economic losses of between ö3 and ö6 billion of the UK’s GDP in 2013, for medium and high emission scenarios. Results using the PE model showed the total loss to the UK economy from shellfish production and consumption ranging from ö23–ö88 million. The results from both the direct valuation and predicted estimate for the economic losses on shellfish harvest indicate that there are regional variations due to different patterns of shellfish wild-capture and aquaculture, and the exploitation of species with differing sensitivities to ocean acidification. These results suggest that the potential economic losses vary depending on the chosen valuation method. This analysis is also partial as it did not include a wider group of species in early-life-stages or predator-prey effects. Nevertheless, findings show that the economic losses to the UK and its devolved administrations due to ocean acidification could be substantial. We conclude that addressing ocean acidification with the aim of preserving commercially valuable shellfish resources will require regional, national or international solutions using a combined approach to reduce atmospheric CO2 emissions and shift in focus to exploit species that are less vulnerable to ocean acidification.