Cod and chips off the menu? Popular fish will become harder to catch amid rising sea temperatures

Cod and chips off the menu? Popular fish will become harder to catch amid rising sea temperatures

It’s the go-to meal when visiting the coast, but cod and chips may soon be off the menu, according to a new study.

Rutgers University researchers have warned that rising sea temperatures will mean less popular species of fish will be available to catch over the next 200 years.

“While the species we fish today will be there tomorrow, they won’t be there in the same amount,” warned Dr. Malin Pinsky, co-author of the study.

It's the go-to meal when visiting the coast, but cod and chips may soon be off the menu, according to a new study

It’s the go-to meal when visiting the coast, but cod and chips may soon be off the menu, according to a new study

Small cod and chips?

Rising sea temperatures are shrinking our favorite fish, including cod and haddock, in the North Sea and west of Scotland, researchers have found.

Experts from Aberdeen analyzed 30 years of trawl survey data on cod, haddock, whiting and pollock from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea.

They found that while juvenile fish in the North Sea and western Scotland have grown, the size of the adult fish has decreased.

In addition, these changes in magnitude are correlated with seafloor temperature increases in both areas, the analysis concluded.

According to the researchers, the data predicts a reduction in commercial fishing yields in the short term, while the long-term prognosis is currently unclear.

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In the study, the team sought to understand how warming water will affect the abundance of popular fish, such as cod.

They suggest that as sea temperatures rise, fish will be driven out of their natural geographic range, making it more difficult for fishermen to catch them.

Meanwhile, larger predators will stay in their habitats longer than smaller prey, in part due to the arrival of new food sources in their pre-warming range, the team said.

“What that suggests from a fisheries perspective is that the species we fish today will be there tomorrow, but they won’t be there in the same amount. In such a context, overfishing becomes easier because population growth is low,” explains Dr Pinsky.

‘Warming combined with food web dynamics will be like putting marine biodiversity in a blender.’

While previous research has looked at the direct effects of climate change on individual species, few studies have looked at the broader implications for ocean communities.

In the new study, the team used computer models to assess trophic interactions — the process by which one species is fed at the expense of another.

The models suggest that warming water due to climate change will cause a massive reshuffle of species.

According to the team, smaller fish will seek cooler waters toward the poles, in a “dramatic reorganization of life on Earth.”

Larger predators stay in place longer and wait for the next batch of small fish.

“The model suggests that over the next 200 years of warming, species will continually rearrange and shift their range,” explains Dr EW Tekwa, who led the study.

“Even after 200 years, marine species will still lag behind temperature shifts, and this is especially true for those at the top of the food web.”

Worryingly, the team suggests these changes likely affect fish around the world.

“These dynamics will not just be in one place, but globally,” added Dr Pinsky. ‘That doesn’t bode well for marine life, and this is not a generally recognized effect.’

The study comes shortly after researchers revealed that rising sea temperatures are shrinking our favorite commercial fish, including cod and haddock, in the North Sea and west of Scotland.

The researchers suggest that as sea temperatures rise, fish are forced out of their natural geographic range, making it more difficult for anglers to catch them (stock image)

The researchers suggest that as sea temperatures rise, fish are forced out of their natural geographic range, making it more difficult for anglers to catch them (stock image)

Experts from Aberdeen analyzed 30 years of trawl survey data on cod, haddock, whiting and pollock from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea.

They found that while juvenile fish in the North Sea and western Scotland are growing faster, the size of the adult fish has decreased.

In addition, these changes in magnitude are correlated with seafloor temperature increases in both areas, the analysis concluded.

According to the researchers, the data predicts a reduction in commercial fishing yields in the short term – with the long-term prognosis currently unclear.

Fisheries will need to factor temperature changes into their forecasts, the team added, to mitigate the effects of global warming and maximize sustainable yields.

CRIMING SPECIES: EXPERTS PREDICT GLOBAL WARMING WILL CAUSE CREATURES TO SHRINK

A recent study in Canada found that the region’s beetles have shrunk over the past century.

By looking at eight species of beetle and measuring the animals past and present, they found that some beetles adapted to smaller body sizes.

The data also showed that the larger beetles shrink, but the smaller ones do not.

About 50 million years ago, the earth warmed by three degrees Celsius and as a result the animal species shrank by 14 percent.

Another warming event about 55 million years ago — called the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) — warmed the Earth to eight degrees Celsius (14.4 °F).

In this case, the animal species of that time have shrunk by up to a third.

Woolly mammoths suffered from a warming climate, shrinking habitat and increased hunting from a growing early human population that drove them to extinction — along with many large animals

Woolly mammoths suffered from a warming climate, shrinking habitat and increased hunting from a growing early human population that drove them to extinction — along with many large animals

Shrinking in body size can be seen from various global warming.

As global temperatures continue to rise, the average size of most animals is expected to decline.

In addition to global warming, the world has seen a dramatic decline in the number of large animals.

So-called ‘megafauna’ are large animals that are going extinct. With long life spans and relatively small populations, they are less able to adapt to rapid changes than smaller animals that reproduce more frequently.

Often hunted for trophies or for food, large animals such as the mastadon, mammoths and the western black rhinoceros, which were declared extinct in 2011, have been hunted to extinction.

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