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Researchers: Fish Getting Smaller As The Oceans Get 'Warmer And Less-Oxygenated Ocean'

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VANCOUVER, BC -- Changes in ocean and climate systems could lead to smaller fish, according to a new study led by fisheries scientists at the University of British Columbia.

The study, published today in the journal Nature Climate Change, 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 from oceans around the world and found that the maximum body weight they can reach could decline by 14-20 per cent between years 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," says the study's lead author William Cheung, an assistant professor at the UBC Fisheries Centre. "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."

This is the first global-scale application of the idea that fish growth is limited by oxygen supply, which was pioneered more than 30 years ago by Daniel Pauly, principal investigator with UBC's Sea Around Us Project and the study's co-author.

"It's a constant challenge for fish to get enough oxygen from water to grow, and the situation gets worse as fish get bigger," explains Pauly. "A warmer and less-oxygenated ocean, as predicted under climate change, would make it more difficult for bigger fish to get enough oxygen, which means they will stop growing sooner."

This study highlights the need to curb greenhouse gas emissions and develop strategies to monitor and adapt to changes that we are already seeing, or we risk disruption of fisheries, food security and the way ocean ecosystems work.

Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of, its staff or its advertisers.

Reader Comments

7 people have commented so far. cloud add your comment

This article is another example of B.S. disguised as science. The authors have a preconceived conclusion (man-made global warming will cause catastrophes), so they wrote a computer program (a “model”) to show that as CO2 levels and temperatures rise, oxygen levels in the ocean will fall and fish will become smaller. This is not science. There’s no testable hypothesis, no empirical data, and no attempt to follow the scientific method. But there are weasel words: ‘could’, ‘may’, ‘suggest’, etc. Research that can’t be replicated is pure B.S., and there’s no way to replicate this “research”. And for the record, throughout most of Earth’s geologic history, fossil evidence shows fish were doing just fine when both CO2 levels and temperatures were much higher than today:
   comment# 1   - Louis Hooffstetter · USA · Oct 2, 2012 @ 9:52am

Reading comprehension would truly help the first poster. I do agree that this has not yet been proven, however, it is clearly stated that there is a study (and probably not just this one) and, that this was originally proposed roughly 30 years ago by another scientist. Everything that humankind knows about the world in and around them started out as theory, for the most part. Over time, studies proved some theories right and some others wrong. The above poster is clearly a "flat world" believer.
   comment# 2   - ian · Los Osos, USA · Oct 2, 2012 @ 5:22pm

ABOUT TEN YEARS AGO-- THE GW CHEERING SECTION RENAMED THEIR EFFORTS, "GLOBAL CHANGE." THAT MOVE HAS GIVEN BIRTH TO HUNDREDS OF ODIOUS,AMBIGUOUS, PSEUDO-SCIENTIFIC MYTHS TO KEEP THE WORLD IN ABJECT TERROR CONCERNING NUMBERLESS FUTURE PHANTOMS THAT COULD ONLY BE PREVENTED BY THE US CONGRESS'S $5,000,000,000, PER YEAR, TAXPAYER DOLE TO THE IPCC--THE UNITED NATION'S ORG,FORMED TO KEEP FACT FROM QUIETLY INVADING THE GW "RESEARCHERS ROOM." WHO, THEN, WORK TO PREVENT THE WORLD CITIZENS FROM DISCOVERING ANY TRACE OF CORRUPTION LEAKING FROM THE IPCC LABORATORIES. THE IPCC/GW HAS HAD A GIFTED FACADE SINCE INCEPTION- MOSTLY FROM THE WORLD'S LEFTIST MEDIA: "...scientists should consider stretching the truth to get some broad-base support, to capture the public's imagination. That, of course,entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements and make little mention of any doubts we might have...Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest." And this is science?? No,a quotation from a Discover magazine, from twenty-six years ago, by leading Global Warming scientist and member of the start-up group--guru, Dr.Stephen Schneider. This is the now-apparent foundation causing former friends, and scientists to abandon the org. AL Gore was paid $300MM, taxpayer money to pull in citizens to fill the growing cracks. More scientists then left, offended
   comment# 3   - RAY HARBIN · ATLANTA USA · Oct 2, 2012 @ 10:44pm

Comment# 1 your link gives the data about CO2 but doesn't give the data about O2 levels. O2 levels were significantly higher at the time the CO2 levels were higher too, negating the impact of CO2 on the environment. The guy who wrote that article does not present his credentials, meaning he is an amateur. Also, by posting "BS" on your comment, you are not presenting yourself the best way you can.
   comment# 4   - Caesar · USA · Oct 2, 2012 @ 11:46pm

A 30 year study is nothing compared to the years that man has been on this planet. We only have climate records going back a few years compared to the time we have been here. We have 5 reported ice ages, where the ice was over the entire US. Now what could have possibly melted and created 5 ice ages? It was not AGW.
   comment# 5   - FeralA · Houston, USA · Oct 3, 2012 @ 1:33am

Sign me up with the first poster. This is pseudo science at its worst. Fossil records directly contradict this claptrap.
   comment# 6   - John Michaels · Paris France · Oct 3, 2012 @ 7:10am

You truncated my comment--leaving off... by Gore's amateurish antics. At that period your counter read 6 (characters remain.) I have a photo confirming this fact.
   comment# 7   - Ray Harbin · Atlanta GA · Oct 3, 2012 @ 1:23pm
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