BRITS’ love of fish and chips is endangering food security more than the Second World War, according to new research.
Scientists from the University of Essex say we must ditch the traditional favourite to save the planet.
Cod and haddock is largely imported from other countries widening the gap between what we catch and what we eat.
Study lead author Luke Harrison, of the University of Essex, said: “Seafood represents a critical source of protein and micronutrients to billions of people globally.
“Exacerbated by stock declines caused by fishing, climate change and habitat loss, this growing disconnect far out-scales any previous mismatches between availability and consumption - including those seen during both world wars.”
Fish and chips is often considered the British national dish.
The humble meal was considered to be a vital ingredient of the war effort in both the First and Second world wars.
Sir Winston Churchill called it our ‘good companions’. He refused to ration it for fear of sparking widespread discontent.
The British Government safeguarded the supply of fish and potatoes during both world wars to ensure the dish remained a boost to morale. They were among the few foods not to be subject to rationing during both world wars.
The parachute regiment even used ‘fish’ and ‘chips’ as codewords during the D-Day landings.
Mr Harrison went on: “We have seen an increasing reliance on seafood imports and a decrease in domestic landings.”
It dates back to the Cod Wars - fishing rights disputes which raged between the UK and Iceland from the 1950s until the 1970s.
Mr Harrison explained: “Our research highlighted policy changes in the mid-1970s, particularly the introduction of Exclusive Economic Zones and the UK joining the European Union, drove a growing mismatch between the seafood produced in the UK and what we ate domestically.”
The first analysis of its kind looked at patterns in seafood production, trade and consumption over the past 120 years.
It showed even if we changed our preferences to species more common to our own waters, like herring and mackerel, UK seafood production would still be unable to meet domestic demand.
UK imports were relatively low before the 1970s. It now imports most of the fish it eats and exports most it produces from fisheries and aquaculture.