NewsOceans and Climate

Moveable feast

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Science  13 Nov 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6262, pp. 760-763
DOI: 10.1126/science.350.6262.760

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In the early 2000s, trawler crews working the Celtic Sea off Ireland noticed something unusual. Small, spiny, bright orange fish, called boarfish, began appearing in their nets in huge numbers. Previously, the intruders had been a minor nuisance; their sharp spines jammed equipment and damaged the soft flesh of more valuable species, such as cod and hake. Irritated crews tossed them overboard. As boarfish schools grew, however, the problem became an opportunity. Trawlers retooled to target the fish, which were turned into meal and oil. Boarfish went from trash to treasure, and they now generate more than $10 million annually for Irish fleets. Scientists aren't exactly sure what is causing the boarfish boom, but there is evidence that a warming ocean is playing a role.

  • * Marianne Lavelle is a freelance journalist in Arlington, Virginia.

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