The British love their cod and chips – in fact we consume about a third of all the cod caught around the world.
However, warmer seas mean more non-native species are ending up on our fishing rods and plates – anyone for boar fish and fries?
Thanks to global warming, you can expect to see boarfish cakes on the menu, though probably appearing under a new, more appealing name.
Until recently, boarfish were more commonly found in the Atlantic Ocean off Senegal in West Africa. But over the last thirty years, they have spread – first into the Bay of Biscay and more recently into the Celtic Sea. Boarfish were first commercially targeted by Irish fishermen in 2006 – last year’s quota was 56,000 metric tonnes.
A rather small fish, they grow to a maximum size of around 23 cm and are extremely bony. Until now, Boarfish have been considered suitable only for processing into fishmeal, but minced, the flesh makes good eating and a recent delegation to China successfully sold a trial batch of Boarfish to a number of food producers.
Red mullet were so loved by the citizens of ancient Rome that a single specimen is said to have cost its weight in silver.
Numbers of the fish in cooler, UK waters are low but growing. This is potentially great news for commercial fisheries. The red mullet is not actually a mullet at all, but a species of goatfish.
Unlike our traditional favourites, cod, haddock and pollack, this Mediterranean delicacy is a small bodied fish that grows rapidly and reaches reproductive maturity at the tender age of two. Most of the red mullet caught go to France – but expect to see it on the menu here too in future.
Shoals of anchovies off the South coast of England, with French and Spanish fishermen in eager pursuit, could provoke clashes with British fishermen intent on protecting their own interests.
Changes in the geographical distribution of commercial fish stocks could spell trouble for international relations. The Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership in its Annual report card for 2010 – 2011, warns that fish stock movements caused by climate change could pose challenges for the way that fishing rights are apportioned between neighbouring countries.
According to the report, stocks of pelagic fish like herring and anchovies could move North by an average of 600 km by 2050.
Partial to a chewy morsel? Well you had better get used to the prospect of squid and chips, as more Scottish fishermen steer away from the traditional quarry of cod and haddock.
Squid are extremely responsive to climate change and warmer surface temperatures are bringing increasing numbers of them into the North Sea, creating a new fishery of North East Scotland.
This is just as well considering that cod stocks could disappear from Celtic and Irish sea by 2100, and decline even further in the North Sea.
Fingers on the trigger
Go back ten years or a little less and the landing of a trigger fish in UK waters was worthy of a mention in the national press.
In some areas around the South coast and Southern Ireland, landings of grey triggerfish during the summer months are now so regular as to be almost commonplace.
Just one more example of the Northerly migration of fish species more commonly found in the Med and the South Atlantic.