Squid and anchovies, more commonly eaten by Britons holidaying abroad, are being drawn into UK waters in large numbers by climate change, according to major new report that suggests the nation’s long-lost bluefin tuna is also returning.
However, global warming is harming sea birds, such as puffins, fulmars, terns and razorbills, as the fish they rely on are driven north or deeper as waters warm. The analysis of the impact of climate on the UK’s seas, which draws on the work of 400 scientists, found a steady rise in water temperature.
It also found a clear rising trend in sea level, leading to much more frequent extreme high water events. Improved defences and forecasting have prevented an increase in coastal floods, but the report warns that sea level rise around the UK is likely to accelerate.
Squid were seen in the North Sea only occasionally in the past but have increased “dramatically”, according to the report, with thousands of tonnes now caught each year and mostly exported.
“The difference now is it is an established summer trawl fishery – that is a clear change,” said Matthew Frost, chair of the working group that produced the report for the UK Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP). He said fishing boats had been quick to spot the new stocks: “If something comes, they realise that very quickly.”
Anchovies have followed the same path northwards. “You now have an anchovy fishery, which is clearly linked to climate change – that is what the science is showing,” said Frost.
The anchovies come from the Bay of Biscay, where there is a large Spanish and French fishery and the shift could have political ramifications, he said, especially after Brexit when the UK takes back control of its territorial waters. “The shift leads to political implications around who is allowed to catch what and what the quotas are, so it is an important development.”
Bluefin tuna were common around the UK before the second world war, with the…