Seven Shellfish Growers Lead a Growing Coalition to Promote Climate Action and Raise Awareness of Climate Impacts to Aquaculture

Growers across the country work with The Nature Conservancy to form the first-ever climate coalition in the aquaculture industry


New York, NY | April 27, 2018

Seven prominent shellfish growers from both the East and West Coasts, in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy, have announced the formation of the Shellfish Growers Climate Coalition (SGCC). The Coalition will engage with food-sector businesses, consumers and policy makers to chart a course towards achieving climate action and securing a low-carbon future. The founding members are Mook Sea Farm, Fishers Island Oyster Farm, Taylor Shellfish Farms, Island Creek Oyster Farm, Rappahannock Oyster Company, Hama Hama Company and Hog Island Oyster Company.

Oyster growers around the country are feeling the impacts of climate change and carbon pollution on their businesses. The SGCC aims to shine a light on the many ways climate change already is affecting food production in the United States by using the stories of shellfish growers to start a broader conversation about the urgent need for climate action. The Coalition recognizes that consumers care about where their food comes from, and whether the foods they love will continue to be available to them. The SGCC will launch tonight at the Billion Oyster Party, hosted by the Billion Oyster Project at Pioneer Works in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

The shellfish industry is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and growers find their businesses significantly affected. Ocean acidification, which makes it difficult for shellfish larvae to grow their shells, caused a near disaster for the Pacific Northwest shellfish industry in 2008 when two major hatcheries collapsed. Growers now engage in expensive monitoring and water chemistry adjustments to ensure shellfish larvae may properly grow their shells, and some have even relocated hatcheries entirely. Flooding and storm damage can result in excessive shellfish mortality, preemptive harvest closures to ensure food safety and general disruption of operations. 

“These growers love the fact that their job keeps them closely connected to the natural world, but in the end, they are businesspeople,” says Sally McGee, Northeast Marine Program Director and Coalition Manager at The Nature Conservancy. “The impacts of climate change are costing them money and endangering their ability to deliver their product. The Coalition is an opportunity to inform both policymakers and the public about how the lack of climate action in the U.S. is affecting not just their businesses, but the natural systems their businesses depend upon, and a whole way of life in coastal communities all over the country.”

“For centuries, farmers and fisherman have grappled with our dynamic natural environment on daily basis,” remarked Chris Sherman, President of Island Creek Oysters and board member for the Massachusetts Aquaculture Association. “Facing a changing climate and the dual impact of coastal and ocean acidification, shellfish farmers are once again on the front line. It is our hope that the SGCC can take advantage of the tremendous voice and economic influence of this burgeoning industry to provide a tangible example of the value of a healthy environment for other businesses, to enact change and to stave off the negative impact poor air and water quality could have on our livelihoods.”

McGee said the Shellfish Growers Climate Coalition is grateful to the Billion Oyster Project, a Nature Conservancy partner, for generously allowing the Coalition to make its launch part of their Billion Oyster Party at Pioneer Works in Red Hook, Brooklyn. “The Billion Oyster Party is the perfect venue to highlight the impacts of climate change on one of our favorite foods,” she added. The party showcases products from more than 40 farmers from around the country and educates guests on the importance of oyster restoration efforts.

“We're thrilled to host the Shellfish Growers Climate Coalition at our annual fundraiser, the Billion Oyster Party, on April 27,” said Pete Malinowski, Executive Director of the Billion Oyster Project. “With oyster farmers from across the nation present to celebrate restoring oysters to New York Harbor, we believe connecting these farmers with one another and with the Shellfish Growers Climate Coalition will help facilitate sustainable solutions for all involved.”

For more information about the Shellfish Growers Climate Coalition, visit nature.org/shellfish4climate


The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

Contact information

Angela Campbell
+1 703-841-5368
angela.campbell@tnc.org

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