Toronto: Large numbers of fish will disappear from the tropics by 2050 as temperatures rise, according to a new study that examined the impact of climate change on fish stocks.
Researchers from the University of British Columbia in Canada found that changing temperatures will drive more fish into the Arctic and Antarctic waters.
Using the same climate change scenarios as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, researchers projected a large-scale shift of marine fish and invertebrates.
In the worst-case scenario, where the Earth's oceans warm by three degrees Celsius by 2100, fish could move away from their current habitats at a rate of 26 kilometres per decade.
Under the best-case scenario, where the Earth warms by one degree Celsius, fish would move 15 kilometres every decade. This is consistent with changes in the last few decades.
"The tropics will be the overall losers," said William Cheung, associate professor at the UBC Fisheries Centre and co-author of the study.
"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 said.
Cheung and his colleagues used modelling to predict how 802 commercially important species of fish and invertebrates react to warming water temperatures, other changing ocean properties, and new habitats opening up at the poles.
The study was published in ICES Journal of Marine Science.