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Climate Change Shrinking Fish Size in Oceans: Study

A recent study by University of Tokyo researchers suggests that climate change is leading to a decline in the weight of fish in the western North Pacific Ocean, as reported in the journal Fish and Fisheries. This weight reduction, observed in the 2010s, is attributed to warmer water temperatures, which limit the availability of food for fish populations in the region. The findings indicate substantial implications for both fisheries management and policymaking concerning ocean resources in the face of future climate change scenarios.

The study identifies several climate-related factors contributing to the decrease in fish weight. Warmer water temperatures result in diminished food supplies, intensifying competition among fish species for resources. This heightened competition, particularly driven by an increase in Japanese sardines, has led to a decline in the average weight of fish. Additionally, rising temperatures alter ocean dynamics, causing shifts in plankton composition and timing of phytoplankton blooms, which disrupts the alignment of crucial stages in the fish life cycle and affects migration patterns.

Analyzing data spanning several decades, the research team observed two distinct periods of reduced fish body weight: one in the 1980s and another in the 2010s. The decline in the 1980s was linked to an upsurge in Japanese sardines, exacerbating competition for food resources. Similarly, the weight reduction in the 2010s is attributed to climate change-induced warming, which hampers the ocean’s ability to distribute nutrients effectively. These findings echo broader concerns about climate change’s adverse effects on seafood sustainability, impacting global food security and livelihoods dependent on fishing activities.


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