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Seafood restaurants are now focusing on climate change

Seafood restaurants are now focusing on climate change

Underwater bleached white corals surrounded by fish.

The West Coast of Canada will soon see a lot more squid- and sardine-based dishes on the menus, while the popular sockeye salmon will slowly disappear. As it turns, Climate change could be a factor in this.

Restaurants regularly update their menus. This often goes unnoticed for diners. These changes are driven mostly by consumer preferences and culinary trends. According to A recent studyPublished by my research team, climate change can now be added to this list.

We discovered that marine fish and shellfish migrate to cooler waters when the ocean temperature rises. This movement in fish stocks affects the availability and quality of seafood catch. It has prompted chefs to rewrite menus at seafood restaurants along the West Coast of Canada.

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Climate change has an impact on our oceans, fisheries, and marine ecosystems

The latest report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate ChangeIt has been confirmed that climate change is having an impact on the ocean, fish stocks, and fisheries via ocean warming and loss of sea ice. ocean acidification, heatwaves, ocean deoxygenationOther Extreme weather events.

Underwater bleached white corals surrounded by fish.
Ocean warming, acidification and loss of sea ice are all factors that affect fish stocks.

Our fisheries are also affected by warming-induced ecological changes. The global dominance of fisheries is increasing. Warmer water is preferred for certain species.

We applied an index called “mean temperature of catch” to measure such changes in species of fish caught along the West Coast of Canada, and found that the catch of warmer-water species in this region has increased from 1961 to 2016.

Relationship between climate change and seafood on menus

How can these changes in catch in fisheries affect the food on our plates? My co-author John-Paul NgI decided to tackle this issue myself by focusing my efforts on the West Coast of Canada as well as the U.S., where many seafood restaurants are located.

We looked at present-day menus from restaurants in these areas, along with menus — some dating back to the 19th century — taken from historical archives in city halls and local museums.

A restaurant menu from 1888
Caption Hotel Vancouver 1888 dinner menu. The menus of restaurants show the seafood selections at different times.
(City of Vancouver Archives. AM1519-PAM1888-17).

After looking at 362 menus, we used a similar approach to the one we developed to study fisheries catches and calculated a “Restaurant seafood average temperature.” This index represents the average preferred temperature across all seafood species that appeared on the sampled menus from restaurants in a city for a specific time period. This index can be used to determine whether restaurants are serving more warm or cold seafood.

Our average preferred water temperature for fish and shellfish has increased to 14 C (2019-21) over the 9 C period between 1961-90 and 1961-90.

This is due to changes in sea temperature and temperature-related changes in fish species composition.

More squid- and sardine dishes

The ocean warming is changing the availability of seafood.

Due to the higher ocean temperature in northeast Pacific Ocean, the Humboldt squid — a large, predatory squid species that inhabits the eastern Pacific Ocean — is now making more frequent appearances on present-day restaurant menus in Vancouver.

British Columbia had once had a Pacific sardine fishery that was commercially important. This was a popular seafood choice for restaurants. After the fishery collapsed, mid-1940sThe fish was not often featured on our sampled restaurant menus.

A school of fish in the ocean water.
Research shows that sardines in B.C. will soon be more plentiful. waters.

Research conducted by colleagues in Research on fisheriesAnd Our team at the Institute for the Oceans and FisheriesThe sardines, which like warmer water, will soon be making a comeback on Canada’s West Coast. We expect to see more sardine dishes on the menus in restaurants.

Response to changing seafood availability

Globalization has brought more seafood options to coastal cities like Vancouver, Los Angeles, and other areas. Imported and farmed More seafood is being used in meals.

As climate change continues to shuffle species’ distribution in ocean waters, we expect that climate-induced changes to seafood menus at restaurants will become even more pronounced.

Our study of restaurant menus highlights the importance of Climate change has wide-ranging effects on our food system. If alternative seafood ingredients and consumer preferences are flexible, there may be limited impacts on our cultural, social and economic well-being. However, substantial negative consequencesMany vulnerable communities will feel these changes and may not be able to adapt.

If we want the oceans to continue providing food for those around the globe who depend on it for their nutritional security, both local and global actions are necessary to support climate change mitigation and adaptation.

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