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Anglers' debate warming up

PUBLISHED: 11:11 17 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:57 03 July 2010

Angling by Roy Webster



MAKE the most of the current crop of succulent cod off the Great Yarmouth shoreline because in a few years' time rising sea temperatures due to global warming could drive this species north into the icy waters off Scandinavia.

Angling by Roy Webster

MAKE the most of the current crop of succulent cod off the Great Yarmouth shoreline because in a few years' time rising sea temperatures due to global warming could drive this species north into the icy waters off Scandinavia.

Excellent cod to double figures have featured on local beaches this month with a beauty of 13lb 8oz reeled in at Hopton by local rod Dickie Davies, while Martham's match ace Gary Medlar won the final round of the Gorleston Tackle League and the championship by catching a 6lb cod that boosted his total to 7lb 1oz.

However, ominous signs that anglers and indeed their quarry maybe caught up in an inexorable sea change have appeared along local beaches this winter.

Species that are listed in reference books as sub-tropical that cannot normally survive in a cold water habitat have been caught on rod and line, most recently a number of Ray's Bream from marks between Yarmouth and Weybourne.

Gorleston beach angler Paul Tovell confirmed that several Ray's Bream had been caught from town beaches.

“It's most unusual to catch these warm water fish at this time of the year, and it indicates the seas are warming,” he said.

Hemsby Lifeboat Club secretary Mick Bensley believes sea temperature changes have been going on for some years. “First we had bass spawning along our shores and estuaries, which certainly did not happen 50 years ago. And even red gurnard, which are definitely a warm water fish, have been caught by anglers,” he said.

Marine scientists confirm that, as the North Sea rises in temperature, cod will migrate into the North Atlantic off Scandinavia, and that process is more likely to empty the North Sea of cold water species than commercial over-fishing.

Next month, European fishery ministers are expected to revise cod quota downwards but anglers have now been ruled exempt from the quota system.

Already, one and two-year-old codling populations are well below average so this winter may well be something of a sea fishing swansong, at least for the foreseeable future, until the arrival of species more suited to a Mediterranean-type climate.

However, Mother Nature could still come up with a surprise package for rod and line anglers, especially if the burgeoning bass are protected more vigorously.

Fishing match results. North Norfolk National League qualifier (Kelling): J Lacey (Gorleston Tackle) 7lb 13oz, T Elliot (Avenue Angling) 6lb 3oz, D Able (Norfolk Lads) 4lb 5oz. Teams: Gorleston Tackle and Avenue Angling, both seven penalty points, Norfolk Lads eight.

Gorleston Jolly Boys (Barford): B Rilings 33lb 5oz, T Hunter 16lb 12oz, J Lennard 12lb 13oz. Stalham (Club Water): C Timms 15lb 10oz, W Beckett 11lb 2oz, F Lawson 6lb 14oz.

Kessingland Beach result: 1 G Medler 7lb 1oz, 2 C Legget 4lb 1oz, 3 C Whitlock 3lb 5oz. Whiting, dabs and one cod weighing 6lb.

MIXEDCATCHES: Paul “Dicky” Davies with his 13lb 8oz cod caught at Hopton (top) and Kevin Woodhouse with his surprise catch of Ray's Bream at Bacton.

Pictures: SUBMITTED

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