Traditional British fish and chips are about to get an exotic twist

Sarah Spickernell
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It's time to welcome squid onto the mainstream menu (Source: Getty)

There's no easy way to say this, but global warming could be about to cause the death of traditional British fish and chips.

According to a new study, as the temperature in the North Sea rises, "traditional" fish and chips fish such as cod, haddock and plaice will head north in search of cooler conditions. This will make room for more exotic species typically found around the Mediterranean coast, such as sardines, squid, cuttlefish and red mullet.
The prediction is based on a study by researchers at the University of Exeter, published in the journal Nature Climate Change. Using Met Office data, they estimate the sea's temperature will rise 1.8 degrees over the next 50 years, with serious consequences on popular fish in the UK.
"Our study suggests we will see proportionally less of some of the species we eat most of as they struggle to cope with warming conditions in the North Sea," said Louise Rutterford, one of the lead scientists involved.
According to another lead researcher, Steve Simpson, the UK fishing industry will have to adapt accordingly. "For sustainable UK fisheries, we need to move on from haddock and chips and look to southern Europe for our gastronomic inspiration,” he told the BBC.
"If we can learn to eat them, then British fisheries can be very productive. It will mean changing the British diet, if we want to be catching and eating local fish."

Extinction in the pipeline

While some of the fish will be perfectly happy in more northern seas, not all will be able to cope. In particular, flat fish such as plaice and halibut will struggle to survive in the more rocky and deep conditions found there.
"The flat fish are really in trouble," explained Simpson. "Unless they can change their habitat and diet in the next 20 or 30 years, or adapt to two degrees more warming - which is a big ask - then they will decline."

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