The old-time British favorite fish and chips is on the brink of dying out — literally. The centerpiece of this dish might no longer be around in a few decades, due to warming seawater.
A team of researchers from the Universities of Exeter and Bristol have discovered that North Sea fish such as haddock, plaice and lemon sole – all popular pairings with a side of deep-fried potatoes – may be largely reduced in 50 years because of the rapid rise in the temperature of the North Sea.
Using data and climate model projections from the U.K.'s Met Office, the team developed a new model that predicts the distribution of certain fish species in 50 years.
Considering that the temperature of the North Sea has risen by 1.3 degrees Celsius (2.34 degrees Fahrenheit) over the last 30 years, the researchers predict that cold water fish will move north to cooler waters as warm water fish take their place.
They say the rapid northward movement of fish will be triggered with the anticipated rise in North Sea temperature of 1.8 degree Celsius (3.24 degrees Fahrenheit) in the coming half century.
"Our study suggests that we will see proportionally less of some of the species we eat most of as they struggle to cope with warming conditions in the North Sea," said Louise Rutterford, a postgraduate researcher in biosciences at the University of Exeter.
The researchers predict Britain could see a huge price increase in fish such as haddock, plaice and lemon sole — or see them removed from menu altogether.
"We will see a real changing of the guard in the next few decades," said Dr. Steve Simpson, senior lecturer in marine biology and global change at the University of Exeter. "Our models predict cold water species will be squeezed out, with warmer water fish likely to take their place."
Dr. Simpson added that the findings are important to consumers and the fishing industry alike, as Britain will have to adapt its palate to the more exotic tastes of fish like John Dory, red mullet, gurnard, sardines and anchovies.
"For sustainable U.K. fisheries, we need to move from haddock and chips and look to Southern Europe for our gastronomic inspiration," Dr. Simpson said.