Oregon Coordinating Council on Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia

The Oregon Coordinating Council on Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia was created by the Oregon Legislature in 2017 to ensure a coordinated and effective response to the threats of ocean acidification and hypoxia to Oregon’s cultural and commercial ocean resources. The council is co-led by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Oregon State University and is comprised of representatives from Oregon State agencies, the Governor, the Oregon Ocean Science Trust, Oregon Sea Grant, a conservation organization, shellfish mariculture interests, fishing interests, the academic research community, and Oregon tribes. The council will review activities advancing knowledge of and adaptation to the impacts of ocean acidification and hypoxia on Oregonians and make recommendations on additional measures that Oregon should take to prepare for further future impacts. 


Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia

Ocean acidification and hypoxia (OAH) is a change in ocean chemistry that is happening right here, right now. And, it is occurring at a faster rate than originally predicted. This phenomena has the potential to have profound impacts on living marine resources. Unfortunately, Oregon has the dubious honor of being the locale that first documented these impacts. In 2007, the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery had a massive hatchery failure due to acidic oceanic conditions (see the Case Study below).

Follow the links below for more information on ocean acidification and hypoxia:

Facts About OAH in Oregon Waters

Ocean Acidification Video

Case Study: Whiskey Creek Hatchery

Initiatives in Oregon

Additional OAH Resources


Facts about OAH in Oregon Waters

1.  Ocean water is rapidly becoming more acidic. In less than two centuries, ocean acidity has increased worldwide by 30%. This rapid change is a result of human-generated CO2 being emitted into the atmosphere, which is absorbed by the world’s oceans and increasing every year. CO2 absorption reduces the pH, causing increased acidity that reduces carbonate, a key component of sea water. Reduced carbonate can have detrimental impacts to marine life, particularly to organisms that use it in making their shells. Increasing ocean acidification (OA), has been tracked for several decades by hundreds of researchers worldwide. These long-term datasets positively correlate human-generated atmospheric CO2 production with increases in OA. 

2. Coastal Oregon and the West Coast are particularly vulnerable to OA and Hypoxic Zones.The compounded effects of natural and human-generated factors increase the intensity of OA off Oregon, exacerbating the impacts from seasonal Hypoxic Zone formation. Naturally occurring seasonal upwelling of acidified deep ocean waters is a component of the Pacific Northwest’s ocean carbon chemistry processes.

Read more: Facts about OAH in Oregon Waters

Case Study: Whiskey Creek Hatchery

In 2007, the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery, located in Netarts Bay, OR, suffered a substantial oyster larvae die-off. The hatchery produces oyster larvae for the commercial shellfish growers, and they were unable to provide their customers with the late-stage larvae required for a new crop. It was discovered that unusually acidic waters corroded the shells of the microscopic oyster larvae, causing the larvae and juveniles to die. The hatchery was eventually able to stem the die-offs by altering the chemistry of seawater pumped into their tanks to buffer against the low pH levels.

Oyster larval spat

Since then, Whiskey Creek has learned to produce healthy larvae with a system that constantly buffers the water and controls pH fluctuations. However, the effectiveness of buffer chemicals is limited to the hatchery rearing tanks, and does not solve the ocean acidification issue in the natural environment. Continued monitoring and research to develop effective adaptation and mitigation plans are critical to sustain the oyster industry and maintain healthy wild stocks of shellfish.

“How can the lessons learned about impacts of ocean acidification on cultured oysters help us understand the threats to wild populations of native shellfish and fish in Oregon bays and estuaries?”