Could the Climate Crisis Wipe Out Cod?

Could the Climate Crisis Wipe Out Cod?

Brits may soon find it difficult to order traditional fish and chips at local restaurants. Researchers say the climate crisis is causing cod populations to dwindle.

A new study, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, reveals temperatures in the English Channel, the Celtic Sea, and the southern North Sea have been rising for more than four decades.

Global warming is putting cold-water fish—such as cod, megrim, and monkfish—at risk. Experts say sea temperatures are only going to get hotter.

“Our results show that climate change will continue to affect fish stocks within this sea region into the future,” the lead author of the report, Dr. Katherine Maltby, told the Independent. She said fishers would have to adapt as a result.

In lieu of cod-based fish and chips, menus could see an increase of warm-water fish. These include species like lemon sole, Dover sole, and red mullet. Researchers say these types of fish are amply growing in the UK’s warming waters.

Some fish and chip shops have chosen to add more vegan options for environmental reasons. Last year, the founders of The Fish & The Chip in Leicester decided to close down their seafood-centered location and launch a new plant-based restaurant. They made the decision after a fishing trip revealed the “impact pollution is having on the oceans and fish stocks.” 

For all the best vegan fish and chips you can find in the UK, see here.

Could the Climate Crisis Wipe Out Cod?
Climate change is also impacting UK puffin populations. | Pascal Mauerhofer via Unsplash

Impacts of Climate Change in the UK

Climate change isn’t just impacting the UK’s fish populations. According to non-profit environmental organization Friends of the Earth, global warming is having a significant impact on the country.

Increased temperatures have made it difficult for many seabirds, such as kittiwakes and puffins, to find food. The latter has seen a drop in population from 33,000 to nearly 600 in the past two decades.

The group says climate change has led to coastal erosion. This has led areas of Norfolk to slide into the sea. And record summer temperatures led to an intense heatwave in 2018, which caused wildfires to burn in the moors.

Rising temperatures have also made flooding—such as what occurred as a result of Storm Desmond in 2015—40 percent more likely to occur, according to the organization.

The UK Meteorological Office predicts annual global temperatures will likely be at least 1°C more than what they were before the industrial era for the next four years. It also estimates that by end of the century, average sea temperatures of the English Channel, the North Sea, and the Irish and Celtic Seas will increase by 3°C.