Tropics could lose important commercial fish by 2050

Global warming might force fish species to move to cooler waters at the poles

By Moushumi Sharma
Published: Tuesday 14 October 2014


Fish in the equatorial region may soon lose the battle to climate change. Scientists at the University of British Columbia in Canada predict that the tropics could witness the loss of important commercial fish species by 2050.

In a study published in ICES Journal of Marine Science, researchers examined areas where fish extinction is most prevalent. They also looked at 802 fish species to see how they reacted to warm water, reports Daily Digest News. They estimate that if the temperature of Earth increases by 3° Celsius by 2100—the worst-case scenario predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—fish will move away from their current habitat at the rate of 26 km per decade. If the oceans warm by 1°C, the rate of movement would be 15 km every 10 years. 

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

The study suggests that changing temperatures might drive more fish into the Arctic and Antarctic waters. While this could affect the food security of the people living in the equatorial region, it could provide new opportunities to those living at the poles. “As fish move to cooler waters, this generates new opportunities for fisheries in the Arctic. On the other hand, it could disrupt the species that live there now and increase competition for resources,” sayslead author Miranda Jones. 

According to Daily Digest News, the new study does not take into account earlier reports that suggest global fisheries could collapse by 2050 due to overfishing and pollution. 


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