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The oyster die-off

(article, Culinate staff)

Oysters grown in the salty bays and inlets of the Pacific Northwest are coveted nationwide. As the Portland Tribune reported back in June, they're considered a clean, sustainable seafood industry. But lately the region's oyster populations have been struggling, and farmers and scientists are worried:

bq. Wild oyster stocks may be overfished, but locally farmed and harvested oysters thrive in Pacific Northwest waters, don’t drain resources or involve harmful fishing techniques, and help keep estuaries clean by acting as natural filters. Oysters also perform another key function for the ecosystem: they're considered a "canary in the coal mine," an indicator species that predicts problems for other aquatic life. 

The culprit? Ocean acidification, a global problem caused by climate change that makes it hard for shellfish, in particular, to survive. As one of the farmers quoted in the Tribune joked, if the oysters disappear, maybe they'll switch to growing seaweed instead.