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Re: Fishing Throws Targeted Species Off Balance


"Trevor J. Kenchington" <[log in to unmask]>


Scientific forum on fish and fisheries <[log in to unmask]>


Wed, 23 Apr 2008 10:48:46 -0300





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Thanks, Justin.

I did read "Selfish Gene" but that was nearly 30 years ago and the
details of what was said in what chapters faded from memory long ago.

Nova Scotian inshore fishermen (who tend to have very little "book
learning" but who have spent many hours thinking about fish) seem to
often have strongly-held opinions on resource conservation that would
make sense for terrestrial mammals, such as the deer that the same
men hunt in the fall -- and even more sense for modern humans (with
our very low mortality rates through early and middle adulthood), if
we hunted one another. However, a lot of those notions just don't
work with fish. Besides the idea that every individual should be
allowed to spawn before being caught, there is the one that fish
should be allowed to grow to full size -- which, of course, isn't
something that even exists for most fish species.

You are very likely right that those are learned beliefs, based on
social ideals. As we (including even inshore fishermen) become more
isolated from wildlife and yet more connected to humans outside our
immediate families, our evolutionarily-correct attempts to protect
those juvenile humans who share our genes can too easily become a
desire to similarly protect all juveniles: the starving African
children who are featured in TV commercials seeking donations, the
"cute" seal pups whose killing is once again provoking assorted
activists, and even undersized fish of many species.

Maybe what is wrong with our DNA is that it doesn't give us enough
intelligence to see past such confusions!

Trevor Kenchington

On 23-Apr-08, at 9:26 AM, Justin C. Johnston wrote:
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> Trevor,
> You should read the last few chapters of "The Selfish Gene" by
> Richard Dawkins. He has an interesting theory about how ideas are
> passed through a population and compares/contrasts that with how
> DNA is passed. If you read the book strictly to understand
> evolution, you would have been dissapointed with the last couple of
> chapters. However, in this case, the question as to why people
> believe that an every individual should be given an opportunity to
> reproduce before we catch it, his theory would be applicable. I
> doubt that the belief being held by many people is an inherited
> genetic trait. More likely it spread in the manner that Richard
> suggests and stems from social ideals adopted while most people are
> very young.
> Cheers,
> Justin Johnston

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