Scientists: Climate Change Will Mean Fewer Big Fish

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$100 for a spicy ahi poke bowl? Well, possibly.

Hawaii fishermen and seafood lovers may have a new reason to heed the long-standing warnings about the serious impacts of climate change, according to federal scientists in Honolulu.

The latest research shows global warming and ocean acidification will have a significant effect on large pelagics, such as tuna and swordfish, over the 21st century.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists Phoebe Woodworth-Jefcoats and Jeff Polovina conducted an investigation that projects up to a 75 percent decline in the abundance of big fish in the central north Pacific as plant-like organisms called phytoplankton change in density.

"The habitat of tuna will expand but the density per unit area will go down," Polovina said. "It's going to be a problem because the density of fish relates to catch rates that have economic importance. Lower density means lower catch rates."

This could mean far fewer fish to be caught and sold in local markets and higher prices for consumers. The Hawaii commercial fishing industry alone generates roughly a half-billion dollars in sales annually and provides 11,000 jobs, according to a recent report. The Aloha State's recreational fishery adds another 7,000 jobs and more than $773 million in total sales.

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