A new study by fisheries scientists has warned that changes in ocean and climate systems could lead to smaller fish. It provides the first-ever global projection of the potential reduction in the maximum size of fish in a warmer and less-oxygenated ocean.
The researchers used computer modeling to study more than 600 species of fish and found that the maximum body weight they can reach could decline by 14-20% between 2000 and 2050, with the tropics being one of the most impacted regions.
“We were surprised to see such a large decrease in fish size,” said the study’s lead author William Cheung.
“Marine fish are generally known to respond to climate change through changing distribution and seasonality. But the unexpectedly big effect that climate change could have on body size suggests that we may be missing a big piece of the puzzle of understanding climate change effects in the ocean,” Cheung noted.