Date of Graduation

Spring 5-21-2022

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Management (MSEM)


College of Arts and Sciences


Environmental Management

First Advisor

John Callaway, Ph.D.


Ocean acidification is an emerging global environmental issue with known impacts on calcifying marine and estuarine organisms, including oysters. Anthropogenic climate change increases ocean uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide, which decreases seawater pH and the availability of crucial calcium carbonate minerals, namely calcite and aragonite. Acidification poses a major threat to the Eastern oyster aquaculture industry in the Gulf of Maine (GOM), which is highly susceptible to acidification and highly economically dependent on the industry’s economic contributions. In this report, I evaluated overall vulnerability of the GOM Eastern oyster aquaculture industry by assessing ecological exposure, social sensitivity, and adaptive capacity to the impacts of acidification. Projections of aragonite saturation, sea-surface temperature, and precipitation under IPCC carbon emissions scenarios demonstrate the region’s high ecological exposure to acidification. Sales revenue, employment, and labor income represent the region’s high economic dependency and thus social sensitivity to changes in the industry. Combined, these make the region highly vulnerable to the impacts of ocean acidification. The issue has already garnered significant attention from agencies and institutions with the capacity to implement initiatives that bolster the industry’s ability to mitigate and adapt to changes, thereby lowering overall vulnerability of the industry to medium-high. To further augment the adaptive capacity of the GOM Eastern oyster aquaculture industry, I recommend implementing community education programs, bolstering the role of oyster hatcheries, incentivizing multi-trophic aquaculture, and conducting site-suitability analyses for future aquaculture locations.