Red mullet and chips: Warming changes Europe's fish diet

Bye bye, cod, skate and haddock.

Hello, blackbelly rosefish, John dory and splendid alfonsino.

Fish-lovers in northern Europe will have to grapple with some unfamiliar names as the greenhouse effect accelerates.

Biologists on Thursday report that warmer seas are causing a remarkable turnover in commercially-caught species off Britain, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands and northwest France.

Cold-water species such as the Atlantic cod that were a staple two generations ago are losing out but warm-loving species such as the dab and John dory are doing well, their study suggests.

The paper analyses 11 surveys of catches of bottom-trawled fish in a million square kilometres (425,000 square miles) on northeastern Europe's continental shelf, comprising the North Sea, Irish Sea and the northern Bay of Biscay.

Relatively shallow, these seas have warmed by between 0.72 and 1.31 degrees Celsius (1.3-2.4 degrees Fahrenheit) over the 28 years from 1980-2008, or four times the global average.

To the lay person, a warming of this magnitude may seem trivial. But temperature has a big impact on maturation of fish eggs, the growth and survival of larvae and on the plankton on which fisheries ultimately depend.

Out of 50 species that were studied most closely, 36 showed a significant response to temperature during the 28 years. Twenty-seven of those species saw an increase in abundance.

Catches of cold-loving species dropped by half but those of warm-loving species doubled.

"We see many more southerly, warm-water species faring well on the European shelf than more northerly, cold-adapted species," said Stephen Simpson of the University of Bristol, western England, who led the probe.

"This means more small-bodied, faster-growing species with shorter generation times, and potentially more diversity."

The data is based on roughly 100 million fish from 177 species that were brought in by commercial trawlers.

Several species, especially cod, have been hammered by over-fishing since the end of World War II.

But Simpson said the study had not been skewed by using catch data.

His team used a "grid" approach, which was able to zoom into small areas of sea to look at catches species by species and year by year, and see how this compared with the local change in sea temperature.

That way, the impact of fishing could be taken into account in calculating populations, he said.

"The most intense fishing in European waters happened really between 1950 and 1980. It has fallen quite substantially since then as a result of the (European) Common Fisheries Policy," Simpson told AFP by phone.

"We're certainly convinced that what we're seeing is a response to warming, not to fishing."

Simpson added that, over time, with strong management and a smart response to consumer demand, European seas had the potential to be a good and sustainable fishery in a warmer world.

He noted that fishermen in the southwestern English county of Cornwall were already exploiting a market for the once-exotic red gurnard.

"Five years ago, they sold it for 50 pence (77 US cents, 57 euro cents) a fish to crab fishermen for their pots as bait. Now it's sold to gourmet restaurants for five pounds (7.2 dollars, eight euros) a fish."

The study appears in Current Biology, one of the US-based Cell group of science journals.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer

    £35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

    Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine