In a recent study conducted by marine scientists from the University of British Columbia, researchers find climate change could cause fish to migrate from the equatorial regions to the Arctic by 2050.
It is estimated that most commercial and edible fish could migrate from the tropics to cooler regions because of a definite change in water temperature, and this could have devastating effects on both people and the environment.
The marine biologists studied 802 species of tropical fish and researched how they reacted to warm water or change in water temperature – and they based this research on the worst scenario of global warming from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
They estimate according to the worst IPCC scenario that fish would migrate in 2100 from their present habitats at a rate of 16 miles per decade if tropical waters get warmer by 3 degrees. But in comparison, fish would migrate at a rate of 10 miles per decade if only 1 degree of water warming occurs.
An associate professor at the UBE Fisheries Centre, William Cheun states that “the tropics will be the overall losers. 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.”
However, as much as people in tropic regions could lose out on fish food and fish nutrition due to the fish loss and migration to cooler waters, the resources in the Arctic would come under a tough competition from the fish population growth in this cold region.
Miranda Jones, another UBE researcher states that “as fish move to cooler waters, this generates new opportunities for fisheries in the Arctic. On the other hand, it means it could disrupt the species that live there now and increase competition for resources.”