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OSU receives federal grant to study climate change impacts on two key ocean species

A Dungeness crab in a trap.
Pat Kight
Oregon Sea Grant
A Dungeness crab in a trap.

The Oregon State University research will focus on Dungeness crab and krill. Both species are threatened by multiple stressors, including ocean acidification, algal blooms, and increasing ocean temperatures caused by climate change.

The goal of the four-year project is to understand the many impacts these stressors have in order to help fisheries and local agencies prepare for the future.

Research will focus along the coast from Northern California up through Washington. Researchers will look at new and existing data to determine how sensitive these species are to climate-induced changes.

“We know that the climate is changing, and it is impacting our marine resources,” Francis Chan, a marine ecologist and the principal investigator, said in a press release. “This work is all about how we can best position the Dungeness crab fishery to be more resilient to these changes. At the conclusion of this work, we hope to have answers to help fishermen and managers get to a climate-ready fishery.”

The project will also integrate traditional environmental knowledge and practices from Indigenous groups, including interviews with tribal members to document knowledge about shellfish populations that has been passed down orally over multiple generations.

“With all of the information we gather, we hope to give people a clear view of what the future will look like for the fishery in this region. We will also look at how current resource management tools, such as size limits and seasonal closures, as well as other options that fishers and managers identify, might be used in the future to safeguard the fishery," Chan said in the release.

The research will be funded by a $4.2 million dollar grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Jane Vaughan began her journalism career as a reporter for a community newspaper in Portland, Maine. She's been a producer at New Hampshire Public Radio and worked on WNYC's On The Media. Jane earned her Master's in Journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.