Fishing communities near the Earth's equator, particularly those in Southeast Asia, are at risk of losing their source of food and livelihood. An Australian-led study has found that the burgeoning climate change will make ocean waters to go warmer, pushing marine species to seek comfortable conditions elsewhere.
The Earth's massive ocean waters have been predicted to warm by two to three degrees Celsius by end of the present century.
As such, coastal communities will experience reduced fish haul as fish populations swim away from the equator to find refuge in areas with more forgiving and comfortable temperatures.
"This will have a substantial impact on the human societies that depend on these fish," Dr Jodie Rummer, study lead author from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE) at James Cook University, said.
The increase in warming likewise leads to a loss of performance. The study noted that fishes lose scope for their natural performance in warmer temperatures, which they need to survive, such as evading predators, finding food and generating sufficient energy to breed.
The researchers noted they have actually found four species of fish living above the temperatures at which they function best.
Most of the coastal communities can be found in the equatorial zone. Millions of people in these areas are dependent on marine species for their livelihood and survival.
"There are dire consequences ahead if these fish cannot adapt to the pace at which oceans are warming," Ms Rummer said.
The study appeared in the Global Change Biology journal.