Ocean acidity is affecting the Belize Barrier Reef according to news reports from Caribbean Community Climate Change Center, CCCCC. Again, the big malefactor here is the ever progressing climate change that according to an international report, is weighing heavily on the fishing and tourism industries in the country.

The CCCCC says that increasingly acidic oceans reduce marine populations causing adverse effects on exports and foreign exchange earnings. The situation, it adds, is compounded by illegal overfishing and premature harvesting of conch and lobster during the country’s enforced closed seasons. In the article, ocean acidification is explained as, quote, “when greenhouse gases, GHGs, in the atmosphere are trapped and stored in the ocean as carbonic acid. Calcium in the shells of crustaceans interacts with the carbonic acid forming calcium carbonate, which dissolves crustaceans’ shells – affecting their ability to survive.

Coral bleaching, which occurs as a result of warm ocean temperatures, also affects the health of the reefs where much of the marine population lives,” end of quote. Greenhouse gases are equally detrimental to the oceans through acidification as to the atmosphere through global warming.

Efforts are underway to develop adaptation strategies for the marine environment in Belize and with the generous donation of a Coral Reef Early Warning System, CREWS by the European Union, researchers will be able to gather data such as ocean turbidity, levels of carbon dioxide and other atmospheric and oceanic conditions. The donation was made under the Global Climate Change Alliance Caribbean support project.

With this there are two stations that have CREWS buoys - South Water Caye off the Stann Creek District and the University of Belize’s Environmental Research Institute (ERI) on Calabash Caye. This data, according to reports, will be observed from the CCCCC office in Belmopan, and passed along to international scientists for further analysis.