Thursday, August 12, 2010

Climate change pushing fish south

By environment reporter Sarah Clarke

ABC News Online, 13 August 2010
A new CSIRO study has found that climate change is driving a widespread number of fish south as the oceans warm.
The study found around 30 per cent of Australia's inshore coastal fish families have been found outside their usual area.
CSIRO has identified south-eastern Australia as a climate change hotspot, with well documented changes already occurring over the last 70 years.
CSIRO spokesman Dr Peter Last says a snapshot of the distribution of coastal fish has located 43 types of fish outside their normal range.
Those species on the move include rock flathead, tiger sharks and Queensland gropers.
"We had a coral trout, for example, which is a common commercial fish from Queensland, as far south as Port Arthur," Dr Last said.
CSIRO National Fish Collection spokesman Alistair Hobday says the consequences are not always positive.
"These animals are going to move further south and they'll have nowhere else to go once they get to the tip of Tasmania," he said.
The study also found up to 19 species of Tasmanian coastal fish have undergone serious declines, and some are possibly extinct locally.
Mr Hobday says a number of warm temperate species have now colonised cooler areas, and some species may struggle to survive.
"What has been surprising to us is how widespread this movement has been and this paper for the first time shows how widespread that is," he said.

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