Fish & Chips

Scientists are warning cod could be replaced by squid in fish & chips by 2025

Squid and chips, anyone? As if 2016 hadn’t been stressful enough, Brits today woke up to the nightmare that our favourite cod and chip suppers could be usurped by warmwater alternatives such as squid.

‘First Brexit, now this!’ I hear you say. The reason behind this shocking revelation is that our seas are getting warmer due to climate change, and it means we might have to drastically alter our taste in fried fish by 2025.

Coldwater species such as cod are gradually being replaced by interlopers from the southern seas such as the aforementioned squid, sardine and anchovy, according to the appropriately named Dr John Pinnegar, of the government’s Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas).

Squid numbers in UK waters have increased dramatically over the past 35 years, Pinnegar says. Cefas researchers found squid at just 20% of its 76 survey stations in the North Sea in 1984, compared with a whopping 60% in 2014.

But while squid is on the rise, cod numbers have been slow to recover from overfishing.

The once imperilled North Sea cod fishery has actually rallied during the past decade (in fact, the European Commission agreed to an increase in catch limits for 2017 earlier this month). But Pinnegar suggests it may not be enough to turn the tide, with scientists believing the warming waters of the North Sea in recent years have hit cod reproduction.

“UK consumers enjoy eating quite a limited range of seafood, but in the long term we will need to adapt our diets,” he warns. “In 2025 and beyond, we may need to replace cod and other old favourites with warmwater species such as squid, mackerel, sardine and red mullet.”

Stern words indeed. And it’s a story that went viral today – but it’s not as if we’re being asked to eat dog with our chips, is it?

Speaking to Time magazine, Andrew Crook, the vice president of the National Federation of Fish Friers, suggests fears about the future of our traditional fish and chips are a “little overcooked”, with many chip shops across the land having already adapted their menus to reflect changing marine populations.

And the prospect of calamari and chips is hardly a new one, either.

Instead, perhaps this news could spur us Brits on to try something different. “People really are ingrained in what they want,” says Crook. But our Kiwi and Aussie cousins have done a great job in adopting this British institution as their own.

I had probably my best ever fish and chips meal at a restaurant called Doyle’s in Sydney Harbour, and probably the second-best ‘fush and chups’ on a beach in a small town called Waikanae on New Zealand’s North Island. And there wasn’t a trace of cod in these hostelries.

All I ask is that you don’t take my vinegar away.