By 2050, doubling of carbon dioxide levels means fish extinctions locally

David Close of the Aboriginal Fisheries Unit of the University of British Columbia presented a model of how fish will react to predicted increase in carbon dioxide levels.

The natural range of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for the last 650,000 years ranges between 180 and 300 parts per million (ppm). As of 2005, it’s 379 ppm and at the current rate, will double by 2050.

Close and William Cheung, also of the University of British Columbia, looked at the records of the fish commercially caught and what will happen to their distribution as a result of the increase.

Fish in the lower latitudes will move to the poles by 2050. Using the models to look at important Northwest species such as sockeye salmon will only be found in northern Alaska.

Herring will only be found in northern Alaska and not in Washington or Oregon waters. There will be an average move northward by most species of 45 kilometers per year. Northern areas are already seeing fish in their waters they have never seen before or many more of rare species.

This means traditional resources will be extinct in some areas as the fish migrate north.

The published paper is discussed in this article in Fish and Fisheries magazine.

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