Climate Change Is Bringing New Species to UK Waters

Climate Change Is Bringing New Species to UK Waters

17 August 2017

Climate change is affecting the way we fish. Alongside the usual suspects, trout and carp, UK anglers are finding unusual species. These include anchovies, bluefin tuna and even squid.

Why is the UK seeing new fish species?

Sea temperatures are rising, causing fish to venture out of their usual locations. Squid, common in the Mediterranean Sea, are starting to be found near the North Sea. Squid is not the only new exotic arrival. They’re accompanied by red mullet, sardines and sea bass.

What does the rising North Sea temperature mean?

The appearance of these fish in UK waters is more than a novelty. It’s a sign of issues that should be cause for concern. Those that are coming to surface are the few that are able to adapt to these new conditions. Many species of fish have been decimated over generations by overfishing. This sudden shift in their environment could greatly impact their sustainability.

With these new arrivals comes departures. Cod is still common in UK waters. But as they’re accustomed to colder temperatures, this could soon change drastically.

On a broader scale, the international migration of fish has political implications. This is particularly important post-Brexit. An article for The Guardian explains thatanchovies come from the Bay of Biscay, where there is a large Spanish and French fishery.” There's a risk of “political ramifications after Brexit, when the UK takes back control of its territorial waters.”

Can I fish these new species?

Want to expand your repertoire of conquests, while remaining mindful of these issues? The most important thing to be aware of is which are protected by the British government. Bluefin tuna has recently been found in large numbers in Cornwall. They were originally common, until their main prey (mackerel and herring) were overfished. Now they’re re-emerging, many anglers seem set on catching them. Classified as an endangered species by the WWF, catching bluefin tuna is highly discouraged. The UK Government Marine Management Organization (MMO) have certain regulations. Anglers must return Bluefin tuna unharmed, as carefully as possible. Even if you land bluefin tuna and can't return it to the sea, it must not be sold.

What tackle do I need for squid and anchovies?

Other fishes however, such as squid and anchovies, can be fished responsibly. Of course, they have differing requirements to an angler’s run-of-the-mill catch. As squid use their tentacles for bait, you can't rely on a standard hook and spinner. You can use a particular lure called a squid jig. With regards to rods, use either a light bass rod, or a light spinning rod. An ideal choice is the Shimano Sustain Spinning Lure Rod. However, if you fish from a raised position, lifting up a squid with a rod could cause its tentacles to snap. Therefore, we advise you use a landing net.

A net is also advised when catching anchovies, due to their size. A great choice is the Wychwood Boatmen Net. When fishing for anchovies, we recommend you avoid large bodies of water. The current is faster than a lake or a pond, for instance. This, coupled with their miniscule size, makes them almost impossible to catch. For bait, the best choice is plankton.

So, feeling adventurous? Remember to exercise caution, and to treat your catches with care. Happy fishing!