'Fish thermometer' reveals long-standing, global impact of climate change

May 15, 2013
Marine species are gradually moving away from the equator into cooler waters, and as a result, species from warmer waters are replacing those traditionally caught in many fisheries worldwide. Scientific studies show that this change is related to increasing ocean temperatures. Credit: The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Climate change has been impacting global fisheries for the past four decades by driving species towards cooler, deeper waters, according to University of British Columbia scientists.

In a Nature study published this week, UBC researchers used temperature preferences of fish and other marine species as a sort of "thermometer" to assess on the world's oceans between 1970 and 2006.

They found that catches were increasingly dominated by warm-water species as a result of fish migrating towards the poles in response to rising .

"One way for to respond to ocean warming is by moving to cooler regions," says the study's lead author William Cheung, an assistant professor at UBC's Fisheries Centre. "As a result, places like New England on the northeast coast of the U.S. saw new species typically found in warmer waters, closer to the tropics.

"Meanwhile in the tropics, climate change meant fewer marine species and reduced catches, with serious implications for food security."

"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," says Daniel Pauly, principal investigator with UBC's Sea Around Us Project and the study's co-author. "These global changes have implications for everyone in every part of the planet."

Explore further: Ocean warming could lead to smaller fish size, study finds

More information: Paper: dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature12156

Related Stories

US Atlantic cod population to drop by half by 2050

February 12, 2009

A University of British Columbia researcher put a number to the impact of climate change on world fisheries at today's Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Chicago.

Sea life 'must swim faster to survive'

November 7, 2011

Fish and other sea creatures will have to travel large distances to survive climate change, international marine scientists have warned. Sea life, particularly in the Indian Ocean, the Western and Eastern Pacific and the ...

Recommended for you

Energy-saving LEDs boost light pollution worldwide

November 22, 2017

They were supposed to bring about an energy revolution—but the popularity of LED lights is driving an increase in light pollution worldwide, with dire consequences for human and animal health, researchers said Wednesday.

Re-cloning of first cloned dog deemed successful thus far

November 22, 2017

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers with Seoul National University, Michigan State University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has re-cloned the first dog to be cloned. In their paper published in the journal ...

Testing the advantage of being left-handed in sports

November 22, 2017

(Phys.org)—Sports scientist Florian Loffing with the Institute of Sport Science, University of Oldenburg in Germany has conducted a study regarding the possibility of left-handed athletes having an advantage over their ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.