YCC Project Highlight: Macroalgal Solutions - Blue Carbon and Aquaculture


The first Youth Climate Challenge was held in conjunction with the 2019 Southwestern Tribal Climate Change Summit and hosted over 8 youth teams from communities across the Southwestern United States and Mexico. This Challenge provided an opportunity to come together, focus on climate strategies and solutions, and advance resilience efforts throughout the Southwest and North America. Following the Challenge, students were offered the opportunity to propose their projects for funding to implement. The following project has been awarded support for the 2019-2020 year.

About the Inaugural Youth Climate Challenge:

In collaboration with partners from across the region, the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians, Pala Band of Mission Indians, Climate Science Alliance, and the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals convened the second Southwestern Tribal Climate Change Summit in August 2019. The first Youth Climate Challenge was held in conjunction with this event and hosted over 8 youth teams from communities across the Southwestern United States and Mexico. This Challenge provided an opportunity to come together, focus on climate strategies and solutions, and advance resilience efforts throughout the Southwest and North America. Following the Challenge, students were offered the opportunity to propose their projects for funding to implement. The following project has been awarded support for the 2019-2020 year.

Project:

Macroalgal Solutions: Blue Carbon and Aquaculture

Team Members: Ismael Plascencia Torres, Jesus Leyva Rivera, Minerva A. Padilla Villa, Sayuri Sagisaka Mendez, Maria Fernanda Salcedo Noriega

Community of Impact: Baja California, Mexico

Our Story: Our generation did not cause accelerated climate change, but we are facing its consequences and we will continue to do so as the century develops. Accelerated climate change is undoubtedly the main challenge for humanity at the present time because it impacts our social structure from many different angles: causing natural disasters, modifying natural habitats, displacing species, contributing to biodiversity loss, threatening ecosystem services which we depend on, and above all threatening the stability of small communities, such as fishing villages. As undergraduate students in the Earth Sciences and Environmental Engineering, we are concerned about the effect that accelerated climate change has had and will continue to have in our region, Baja California, and we feel a responsibility to create solutions.

For us, it is clear that the key to mitigating the effects of accelerated climate change is to reduce the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, especially carbon dioxide(CO​2)​.Reducing CO​2 emissions is not enough,it is also necessary to remove a portion of the gases that are already dissolved in the air and in the ocean. Past research has shown that kelp forests can sequester carbon from seawater far more efficiently than land forests (between 313 and 900 gdCm-​ 2​to-​ 1​) (Wilmers, 2012). Additionally, kelp forests can be applied as a bioremediation technology in polluted waters and wastewaters due to their filtering capacity (Neveux, 2018). For these reasons, we consider that we should study kelps to better understand their potential as mitigators of climate change and pollution, and eventually create value with them.

The forests of macroalgae in Baja California have rapid growth rates, with some of the species growing 15 cm per day (Wilmers, 2012). However, in the last decade, there has been a significant loss of natural kelp forests due to the increase in the average seawater temperature and the arrival of sea urchin barricades (Beas-Luna, 2009).

The fishermen of Baja California depend on the macroalgae forests of the Todos Santos Bay (BTS) for their great economic and cultural importance. According to the State Fishery Chart, the five products that lead the region's income are: abalone (historically), shrimp, lobster, sea urchin and octopus (State Government of Baja California, 2015). Most of these species depend directly or indirectly on the kelp forests (Beas-Luna, 2009). Another growing industry in Ensenada is aquaculture, which depends on the extraction of kelp forests to feed the abalone (Baja California State Government, 2015). Unfortunately, aquaculture produces waste and nutrients which can run downstream to the ocean and accumulate, affecting seawater quality, depleting it of oxygen (anoxia), provoking eutrophication and water turbidity, and ultimately having a negative impact on biodiversity (Global Aquaculture Alliance, 2019).

Our Solution: Considering all of the above, the project we propose is an evaluation of the capacity of macroalgae as crops and biofiltrators in Todos Los Santos Bay, Ensenada, Baja California, with the intention of identifying which species would be best to grow in the natural environment. Should this assessment be successful, we would be able to clean the waters near the fish cages from aquaculture and simultaneously absorb CO​2 in water through our kelp crops.

About the The Youth Climate Challenge: An immersive experience that connects students with leading climate scientists, practitioners, artists, and fellow youth. In challenge teams, students are guided and challenged to identify and analyze the climate impacts in their own communities. Together, they investigate climate strategies and solutions and formulate action plans to implement in their sphere of influence.

To learn more about the Youth Climate Challenge, please visit: https://www.climatesciencealliance.org/youth-climate-challenge

To sponsor the Youth Climate Challenge program and the next generation of environmental changemakers, please visit: https://www.climatesciencealliance.org/support

#YouthClimateChallenge #ClimateKids #BuildingCommunity

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