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Fish and chips 'threatened by climate change'

  • Published in UK
Rising temperatures in UK waters mean that takeaway customers could be asking for battered squid with their chips Rising temperatures in UK waters mean that takeaway customers could be asking for battered squid with their chips

Marine experts from Exeter and Bristol universities have warned that supplies of some native British fish species may plummet as they struggle to cope with a warmer climate.

The North Sea has been heating up at a rate four times the global average for the past 40 years.The research team used climate information from the Met Office combined with data from fisheries to build a model which predicts the future of the North Sea's fish stocks over the next 50 years. Their study, published in Nature Climate Change, suggests that water depth has a bigger impact on fish habitats than previously thought, meaning that some species will not be able to survive by migrating north to cooler waters.

Chip shop staples such as sole and plaice are among the species threatened by the rising sea temperatures.

''For sustainable UK fisheries, we need to move on from haddock and chips and look to Southern Europe for our gastronomic inspiration," the study's co-author Dr Steve Simpson told the Daily Telegraph.

According to government body Seafish, Britain exports the majority of the seafood caught in its waters. While the nation's abundant langoustines and scallops are snapped up by French and Spanish buyers, they have failed to find a market with British consumers, who have largely stuck with a narrow range of familiar species. Salmon, tuna and cod remain the favourites, much of it imported.

Successive governments and marine organisations have encouraged Britons to be more experimental with their tastes, but change has been slow to take hold. "There are lots of different species that consumers could be eating, but we are very conservative in this country and we are [governed] by consumer patterns," Barrie Deas, chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations, told the BBC in 2012.

However, warmer waters mean that the UK is likely to attract growing stocks of John Dory, red mullet, anchovies and squid. Their relative abundance, combined with rising prices of more familiar species, could finally kick start a sea change in the nation's diet – bad news for fans of an old-fashioned chip supper.

However, it's not all bad news for the traditional chippy. Cod stocks in the North Sea, once the poster child for the devastating effects of overfishing, are on the up after several years of careful regulation.

Decades of unrestrained fishing left cod stocks dangerously low, but tough controls were introduced in 2006 and consumers were encouraged to swap out cod for lesser-known white fish like gurnard or coley.

After almost a decade, the sustainability movement measures appear to be paying dividends. In fact, new research shows that North Sea cod could gain 'sustainable' status in as little as five years, The Guardian reports.

Source:The Week

Last modified onSaturday, 24 November 2018 20:08
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