A short note on size

One of the things about harvesting fish, whether cod before the crash, blue fin tuna today, or any hunted species, is that the bigger fish are the most prized by the industry. An example that made the news in January was a 752-pound blue fin auctioned for $396,000 in a Japanese fish market.

There are several results of such practice. One is that the average size of a species becomes smaller because only the smaller fish are getting to reproduce. This is evolution in action, only the environmental agency here is the human factor (or factory, since modern fishing fleets are floating factories). Another is that, because bigger fish are also often older fish, they are more experienced — smarter, if you will — than younger ones. Their being taken from the water means not only that they’re out of the genepool, but that their knowledge is lost as well. You may scoff at the notion of a fish having knowledge, but what we don’t know about the ocean is far greater than what we do. And the things we know now are really quite grim.

(Thought conjured by Steve Nicholls’ Paradise Found: Nature in America at the Time of Discovery, a heartbreaking record of slaughter upon slaughter, echoing Peter Matthiessen’s earlier Wildlife in America (1959). To be continued…)

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