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Britain's favourite fish could vanish from UK menus due to climate change

The UK’s favourite seafood might need to change as a new study finds that cod could stop being sold in restaurants. 

Cod and monkfish cannot keep up with the rate at which sea temperatures are rising because of climate change.   

But other seafood favourites – including Dover sole, red mullet and John Dory – may become more plentiful as seas around Britain continue to warm, according to the findings. 

Researchers, who analysed the future effects of climate change on fish stocks for south-west UK fisheries, said families may have to change their diets to protect threatened fish species. 

Families in the UK may have to change what fish they eat as study reveals cod may not keep up with the warming seas. PIctured: Stock photo of fish and chips

Families in the UK may have to change what fish they eat as study reveals cod may not keep up with the warming seas. PIctured: Stock photo of fish and chips

Cod fish (pictured) cannot survive in seas that continue to warm. The Celtic Sea, English Channel and southern North Sea have experienced significant warming over the past 40 years

Cod fish (pictured) cannot survive in seas that continue to warm. The Celtic Sea, English Channel and southern North Sea have experienced significant warming over the past 40 years

Researchers, who analysed the future effects of climate change on fish stocks for south-west UK fisheries, said families may have to change their diets to protect threatened fish species.

The study, which generated future projections of climate impacts on fish in a rapidly warming sea region, forecasts major changes in the availability and catchability of commercially important Atlantic fish species. 

The Celtic Sea, English Channel and southern North Sea have experienced significant warming over the past 40 years, and further increases in sea temperatures are expected over the coming decades.

The study involved researchers from the University of Exeter, the University of Bristol, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) and the Met Office Hadley Centre.

The team used computer models to look at how fish numbers may alter by 2090 under a range of future climates.








Projections suggest increases in abundance of warm-adapted species red mullet, Dover sole, John dory and lemon sole, and decreases in abundance of cold-adapted species Atlantic cod, monkfish and megrim.

The researchers said declining species may need further measures to reduce their vulnerability to further warming temperatures.

Their findings, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, also indicate implications not only for the wider ecosystem, but that the fishing industry and management systems will likely have to adjust their operations to address the changes.

The team said families may also need to also adapt their diets in future to eat species that could benefit under future warming, such as the warm-water species red mullet, Dover sole, john dory and squid.

Study lead author Dr Katherine Maltby, who undertook the research while at Cefas, said: ‘Our results show that climate change will continue to affect fish stocks within this sea region into the future, presenting both potential risks but some opportunities that fishers will likely have to adapt to.

‘Consumers can help fishers take advantage of these fishing opportunities by seeking out other fish species to eat and enjoy.’

Co-author Louise Rutterford, of the University of Exeter, added: ‘We know from working with fishers that warmer water species are appearing in catches more.

‘Bringing together their ‘on-the-ground’ experiences with studies like ours will help inform future management decisions that enable sustainable exploitation while supporting fishers’ adaptation.’

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