Effects of global climate change on marine and estuarine fishes
Global climate change is impacting and will continue to impact marine and estuarine fish and fisheries. Data trends show global climate change effects ranging from increased oxygen consumption rates in fishes, to changes in foraging and migrational patterns in polar seas, to fish community changes in bleached tropical coral reefs. Projections of future conditions portend further impacts on the distribution and abundance of fishes associated with relatively small temperature changes. Changing fish distributions and abundances will undoubtedly affect communities of humans who harvest these stocks. Coastal-based harvesters (subsistence, commercial, recreational) may be impacted (negatively or positively) by changes in fish stocks due to climate change. Furthermore, marine protected area boundaries, low-lying island countries dependent on coastal economies, and disease incidence (in aquatic organisms and humans) are also affected by a relatively small increase in temperature and sea level. Our interpretations of evidence include many uncertainties about the future of affected fish species and their harvesters. Therefore, there is a need to research the physiology and ecology of marine and estuarine fishes, particularly in the tropics where comparatively little research has been conducted. As a broader and deeper information base accumulates, researchers will be able to make more accurate predictions and forge relevant solutions.