Fish Around the World are Shrinking

By Devika Rao in The Week: The world’s fish supply is getting smaller, physically. A study published in the journal Science said that body size trends “varied across communities,” but “marine fish more consistently shifted toward smaller body size.” This trend is concerning for scientists as more than 3 billion people worldwide rely on fish as a source of food. “Organisms becoming smaller has important effects, as the size of animals mediates their contribution to how ecosystems function and how humans benefit from them,” professor Maria Dornelas, one of the authors of the study, said to The Guardian. “Bigger fish can usually feed more people than smaller fish.”

“Smaller fish produce less offspring than larger fish and therefore less productive fish populations,” said Firstpost. “Fishermen will catch smaller fish. This will in turn reduce the global fish supply.” This could alter the global food supply, as well as economies dependent on fishing. “It’s a problem for the fishery,” Art Bloom, a salmon fisherman in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, said to The Washington Post. Smaller fish “don’t present as well in the supermarket.”

The changing demographic can also permanently alter the ecosystem. “In marine and other aquatic ecosystems, size determines whether you are a prey or predator,” Asta Audzijonyte, who studies fish at the University of Tasmania, said to the Post. And fish are not the only aquatic species seeing changes in size. The research showed that several plants and other invertebrate species are also shrinking, while some other species are actually getting larger…

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