Charlie Phillips owns Sapelo Sea Farms, the oldest clam farm in Georgia. He’s been raising and harvesting shellfish for more than 40 years.
And he worries about how climate change will affect his industry. As carbon dioxide levels rise, ocean waters become more acidic.
“Acidification will definitely affect shellfish,” he says, “because as the water gets more acidic, then shellfish can’t form their shells, especially the very small shellfish.”
He says that increasingly extreme weather could also take a toll because stormwater runoff can contaminate coastal waters. So when there’s a hurricane or a bad storm, state agencies may temporarily close areas to shellfishing.
“When they close the waters, I’m generally going to be closed for close to three weeks,” Phillips says, “which means there’s no income for three weeks as a rule of thumb.”
So he says it’s important to protect the ocean from pollution and acidification.
“I just can’t emphasize enough how important it is to take care of our water quality,” he says. “You can’t overstate how important that is for not only fishermen’s quality of life, but everybody’s quality of life.”
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.