Fish and chips could be off menu as UK cod on brink of extinction: 'Lowest in history'

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) warned that rising sea temperatures due to global warming are causing species of cod to dramatically reduce. Charlotte Coombes, from MCS, told that cod populations in UK waters are “among the lowest they have ever been on record” in some areas. Cod is a cold-water species, so rising sea temperatures have put its population at serious risk, with temperatures too warm reducing the survival rate of juveniles.

Ms Coombes also warned that other parts of British waters were seeing cod populations decline too.

She said: “Off the southwest of the UK, int the Celtic Seas around Cornwall, that population is also critically low and in danger of not being able to reproduce, and it’s same off the western coast of Scotland.

“When populations get this small, they can’t actually find each other to breed, and once they get to that point they are at risk of crashing and potentially disappearing entirely if they can’t find a way to increase population sizes again.”

The MCS has already made a list of “fish to avoid” on its Good Fish Guide.

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North Sea and Celtic Sea cod are both on the red list with the UK’s only other cod stock, in the Irish Sea, also being in a poor condition and is placed on the amber list.

Ms Coombes said that as UK seas become warmer, Britons are increasingly consuming foreign fish with the cod we find on our supermarket shelves often coming from Iceland.

Ms Coombes added: “There are much colder waters around Iceland so it’s likely that most of the fish we eat in the UK comes from there.

“What used to be a really iconic UK fish, cod, and used to be the thing that was really important for us and our fisherman, is disappearing from our waters.”

But while Britons are still able to dine on the nation’s favourite dish, Ms Coombes warned that even colder seas are now starting to sea cod populations decline, sparking fears for the future of cod.

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She continued: “We are starting to see populations just starting to decrease in the northeast Arctic.

“It’s still at ok levels, but the decline is a concern because any species that prefers cold water like cod is at risk now that our seas are warming so this is definitely a worry and we don’t know what is going to happen next.”

And cod is not the only fish that is in decline in UK seas.

Ms Coombes also warned that squid, cuttlefish, octopus and wild Atlantic salmon were among other species that MCS is worried about.


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