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Fish may shrink due to global warming, study says

Fish species are expected to shrink in size by up to 24 percent because of global warming, a recent study showed.

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Scientists say fish are shrinking due to global warming. (AFP/Getty /AFP/Getty Images)

Fish species are expected to shrink in size by up to 24 percent because of global warming, a recent study showed.

Researchers recreated what will happen to more than 600 species of fish between 2001 and 2050 if temperatures continue to rise, reported BBC News. Warmer waters could decrease ocean oxygen levels and significantly reduce the body weight of fish.

According to the Guardian, scientists also warned that fish will not only dwindle in individual size, but the overall fish stock will shrink as well.

"We were surprised as we did not think the effects would be so strong and so widespread," Professor William Cheung from the University of British Columbia in Canada, who led the research, said to the Guardian. 

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Cheung and his researchers argued that failing to control greenhouse gas emissions will have a greater impact on marine ecosystems than previously thought.

"It could be worse than that," Professor Callum Roberts, at the University of York, who described the research as the most comprehensive to date, also said to the Guardian. "We will see dramatic changes in the oceans likely to reduce productivity. One billion people rely on fish for primary animal protein and that is going to increase, especially in developing countries. We have to get to grips with our dependence on fossil fuels otherwise we are stuffed."

BBC noted that the data in the study showed relatively small changes in temperatures at the bottom of oceans, but that the impact on fish body size was "unexpectedly large."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/global-warming/120930/fish-may-shrink-due-global-warming-study-says