Fish moving into the Arctic and Antarctic waters at a rate of 26 kilometres per decade, says UBC study

Photo by A.Davey via Flickr
Photo by A.Davey via Flickr

The changing temperatures will drive more fish into the Arctic and Antarctic waters resulting in a large quantity of fish disappearing from the tropics by 2050, a University of British Columbia study discovered.

Researchers project a major-scale shift of marine fish. The worst possible outcome is if by 2100 the oceans warm up by three degrees Celsius, fish would move away from their current habitats at a rate of 26 kilometres per decade. At best, if the oceans only warmed by one degree, fish would move 15 kilometres every decade.

“The tropics will be the overall losers,” said associate professor at the UBC Fisheries Centre William Cheung.  “This area has a high dependence on fish for food, diet and nutrition. We’ll see a loss of fish populations that are important to the fisheries and communities in these regions.”

Cheung used scientific modeling technique to predict how hundreds of species of fish and invertebrates “react to warming water temperatures, other changing ocean properties, and new habitats opening up at the poles,” the media release said.

“As fish move to cooler waters, this generates new opportunities for fisheries in the Arctic,” said UBC Nereus Fellow and lead author of this study Miranda Jones. “On the other hand it means it could disrupt the species that live there now and increase competition for resources.”

In a previous UBC study from last year, the findings shows species from warmer waters have also been replacing caught in many fisheries worldwide since about 1970.

“We’ve been talking about climate change as if it’s something that’s going to happen in the distant future – our study shows that it has been affecting our fisheries and oceans for decades,” said principal investigator with UBC’s Sea Around Us Project Daniel Pauly.

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