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Home / Sporting Events / Fishing / Anchovies could replace cod in British waters by 2050

Anchovies could replace cod in British waters by 2050

Cod, herring and whelks could be forced out of British waters by 2050 as climate change continues to warm the seas, according to a damning new report. 

The Government-backed Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) assessed how British waters, and the animals that live there, will respond to rising temperatures in the next 30 years. 

The landmark report says many stalwarts of British fishermen will struggle to survive, while exotic newcomers may find a permanent home in our seas. 

There are no existing guidelines or legislation for dealing with many of these new species, including the invading bluefin tuna, and experts predict rapidly changing conditions will flip the fishing industry on its head. 

In the report, the authors say a dramatic decrease in shellfish production – particularly whelks and cockles in Wales – will cause ‘significant economic losses’.

They also found with ‘medium confidence’ that the continued struggles of cod, herring, whiting and sprat fisheries will likely continue.

In contrast, more tropical species such as anchovies, hake and sole will thrive. 

However, fish will also become smaller in size as they have to spend large amounts of energy travelling further to find prey.  

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In the report, authors say a dramatic decrease in shellfish production - particularly whelks and cockles - will cause 'significant economic losses'. It also found with 'medium confidence' that the continued struggles of cod, herring, whiting and sprat fisheries will continue

In the report, authors say a dramatic decrease in shellfish production – particularly whelks and cockles – will cause ‘significant economic losses’. It also found with ‘medium confidence’ that the continued struggles of cod, herring, whiting and sprat fisheries will continue

HOW WARMING BRITISH SEAS AFFECTS BIRDS AND MARINE MAMMALS?  

The Government-backed Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) offers a view of how the British fauna will respond to rising water temperatures. 

It found, with ‘medium confidence’ that ‘Leach’s storm petrel, great skua and Arctic skua, may become extinct in the UK by 2100’.

It also claims black-legged kittiwake, Arctic tern and auks will have a significantly smaller range and be forced northwards. 

Breeding population declines in some wader species is related to warmer, drier summers. 

Warming winter temperatures have also been associated with changes in the spring departure of wintering waterbird species to their breeding grounds. 

Warm-water species marine mammals, such as striped dolphin, shortbeaked common dolphin, and Cuvier’s beaked whale are moving northwards as the waters experience change. 

And the ranges of cold-water species, such as white-beaked dolphin, are contracting. 

The main influences of climate change, according to the report, on marine mammals are likely to be from prey distribution and availability. 

Marine mammal species that make long-distance seasonal migrations (e.g. most baleen whales) will likely arrive earlier or remain in high latitudes for longer, increasing breeding opportunities. 

Report found that Leach's storm petrel, great skua and Arctic skua (pictured), may become extinct in the UK by 2100 due to climate change

Report found that Leach’s storm petrel, great skua and Arctic skua (pictured), may become extinct in the UK by 2100 due to climate change 

The report is broken down into several categories to explore the potential impact of global warming on seas around the United Kingdom. 

As well as fish populations and their mortality rates, it investigates the potential impact on seabirds, water birds, marine mammals and plankton. 

The comprehensive report’s scope reached as far as looking at how sea ice, coastal habitat and weather patterns would be affected. 

Its final section of analysis involved how it would affect humans directly, with rising sea levels, threats to coastal heritage sites and increased flood risk.  

Previous data reveals warming has been most pronounced to the north of Scotland and in the North Sea, with sea-surface temperature increasing by up to 0.24°C (0.43°F) per decade.

The report then predicts that UK seas will increase in temperature by up to 0.4°C (0.72°F) per decade if emissions continue unabated. 

Going forward, the report expects the English Channel and North Sea to be affected more significantly than other aquatic regions. 

These warming temperatures have been instrumental in melting sea ice, which has contributed to sea level rise. 

At least half of Arctic sea-ice loss since the mid-20th Century has been caused by climate change caused by humans. 

Warmer waters and other factors have also contributed. 

By 2050, if emissions remain high, the report warns the Arctic will become seasonally ice-free before 2050. 

The impact this will have on sea levels will be catastrophic.

Already, since 1900, mean sea level around the UK has risen by about 5 – 6 inches (12–16 cm).

Sea level rise has been slightly higher in the south of England and slightly lower in the north of Scotland. 

By the end of the century, if the Arctic sea ice is gone, predictions of sea-level rise in London could be as much as 31 inches (0.78 m).

As well as warming up and rising, the British seas are expected to become more acidic, less oxygenated and less salty, all significant factors for marine life. 

Coldwater fish such as the eelpout have already been disappearing while warm-water fish such as anchovies have been blossoming recently, the report claims.  

It is thought the main issue for many species is how the fluctuating temperatures affect the timing of species spawning. 

Warming has led to earlier spawning for sole, but for Raitt’s sandeel, warming delays reproductive development 

The authors write: ‘Warming and associated oxygen solubility appears to be affecting the age at maturation, growth rates, and the maximum size fish can attain.’

A tentative ‘low confidence’ prediction also adds more concern for the staple that is cod.

As well as whales, warm-water fish species popular with sea-anglers, such as the Atlantic bonito (pictured), will frequent English seas

As well as whales, warm-water fish species popular with sea-anglers, such as the Atlantic bonito (pictured), will frequent English seas

In the report, the authors say a dramatic decrease in shellfish production - particularly whelks (pictured) and cockles in Wales - will cause 'significant economic losses'

The landmark report says many stalwarts of British fishermen – such as whelks (right)will struggle to survive where as exotic newcomers may find a permanent home in our seas, including the warm-water loving Atlantic Bonito 

It says that experiments have found Atlantic cod larvae may experience higher mortality rates due to ocean acidification.

In contrast, over the last 30 years, mackerel has been flourishing off the west of Scotland. 

The report states that, by 2040, warming marine temperatures are likely to result in the invasive Pacific oyster thriving in south-west England, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

‘By 2050 climate-driven changes in suitable available habitat could become a major constraint on some commercial species’ distributions in the North Sea,’ the report claims.   

If emissions continue at the high-rate of today, this impact could be as severe as a 10 per cent loss. 

Human health also looks set to take a knock as a result of the rising temperatures, according to the report. 

Changes induced by warmer waters and rising sea levels will trigger changes in how excess water is dealt with, potentially overburdening existing sewage infrastructure. 

As a result, waters used for ‘recreation and shellfish harvesting’ may be subject to increased norovirus exposure.  

‘Increasing sea temperature, more heatwaves and reduced salinity are likely to increase the risk of human infection from Vibrio species,’ the authors add.  

Warming has led to earlier spawning for sole, but for Raitt's sandeel (pictured), warming delays reproductive development

Warming has led to earlier spawning for sole, but for Raitt’s sandeel (pictured), warming delays reproductive development

The report states that, by 2040, warming marine temperatures are likely to result in the invasive Pacific oyster (pictured) thriving in south-west England, Wales and Northern Ireland

The report states that, by 2040, warming marine temperatures are likely to result in the invasive Pacific oyster (pictured) thriving in south-west England, Wales and Northern Ireland

But while many of the marine species face threats, the warming weathers will also see baleen whales – including the fin and grey whale – spend more time in British waters, leading to potential tourist excursions. 

As well as whales, warm-water fish species popular with sea-anglers, such as the Atlantic bonito,  will frequent English seas.  

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow told The Telegraph: ‘Tackling climate change and the impact on our environment is both a national and international priority, and the UK is already leading the fight against it by delivering on our world-leading target of Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

‘We will be increasing that momentum at this year’s COP26 talks in Glasgow and we are calling on more countries to join us in pledging to protect at least 30% of the ocean under marine protected areas by 2030.

‘We are also investing £2.6 billion over six years to better protect our communities from flooding and erosion.

IMPACT OF RISING SEA TEMPERATURES ON BRITISH LIFE 

FLOODS 

The report states that previous improvements to flood defences have reduced the social, economic and environmental consequences of flooding.

However, the projected increases in extreme sea levels will significantly increase coastal flood risk if nothing is done first, the report claims. 

A mere and very possible 0.5m rise in sea levels means up to 70 per cent of coastal defences in England and Wales would become ‘highly vulnerable’ to failure.

By the 2080s, expected annual damages from coastal flooding are estimated to reach up to £1.7b.

The combined threat of flooding from sea-level rise and storms makes transport and energy infrastructure at the coast particularly at risk. 

An estimated 2,700 properties will  be lost to coastal erosion in England over the next 50 years, even with the implementation of Shoreline Management Plans.

Without these plans the number rises to 28,000 properties. 

TOURISM 

As the amount of time baleen whales are predicted to be in British waters, excursions to spot whales may become a tourism featuire. 

Also,  sea angling could become more popular as warm-water fish such as the Atlantic bonito have been spotted in British waters. 

‘Warmer summers are predicted to result in more comfortable conditions at the coast, extended tourism seasons, increased revenues, new infrastructure, and increased employment and water-sport opportunities,’ the report states. 

But it does warn of the dangers of over-tourism and the burden that can place on antiquated infrastructure systems.    

HERITAGE LOSS 

Climate change is increasing the natural rate of decay for many culturally significant sites. 

It also threatens to increase the destruction of submerged shipwrecks as the northward spread of Shipworm (Lyrodus pedicellatus), a wood-boring species that can cause structural damage has been aided by warming waters.  

English Heritage and Historic Environment Scotland have stated many coastal sites are at risk from coastal erosion and flooding. This will only be exasperated by climate change. 

Historic assets on the coast will be subjected to enhanced rates of erosion, increased flooding and changes in weathering patterns as a direct result of climate change. 

Future climate change impacts will result in the continued loss of many historic assets in the coastal zone. 

The same erosion processes will inevitably result in new discoveries being made as well, the report adds. 

STORMS 

Researchers say the increased in storms in the last 70 years can not be directly attributed to climate change.

But, it does climate change could affect storms and waves in the North Atlantic.

However, this impact wil pale in comparison to natural variability of weather patterns. 

The chance of severe storms reaching the UK during autumn may increase due to climate change, if tropical cyclones become more intense.

General wave height will actually decrease by 2100, but severe waves will be bigger than they have been historically. 

There is still a large question mark lingering over how climate change will interact with weather and if it will be noticeable compared to the natural variability in climate patterns. 

COASTAL EROSION 

A large proportion (17 per cent) of the UK coastline is currently affected by erosion. 

This is almost certainly going to increase in the future due to a combination of factors including human activity and sea-level rise 

In Scotland, for the first tie since the last ice age, sea-level rise is outpacing vertical land movement caused by post-glacial crustal ‘rebound’, increasing coastal erosion rates.

Scottish firths will also all be exposed to increased erosion rates for the first time ever due to rising sea levels.  

SEA LEVEL RISE  

Since 1900, mean sea level around the UK has risen by about 5 – 6 inches (12–16 cm).

Sea level rise has been slightly higher in the south of England and slightly lower in the north of Scotland.  

By the end of the century, sea-level rise in London ranges from 17 – 31 inches (0.45–0.78 m), depending on the greenhouse gas emissions scenario and if humanity can reduce its carbon footprint. .

Estimates for other cities are: Edinburgh 0.23–0.54 m; Cardiff 0.43–0.76 m; and Belfast 0.26–0.58 m. 

SEA ICE LOSS 

At least half of Arctic sea-ice loss since the mid-20th Century has been caused by climate change caused by humans. 

Warmer waters and other factors have also contributed. 

By 2050, if emissions remain high, the report warns the Arctic will become seasonally ice-free before 2050. 

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