Day 115. Downfall of the fittest

In December 2012 on December 5, 2012 at 12:50 pm


I have a terrible admission to make.

The sin was my husband’s, but my child was involved so I shall confess it nonetheless.

This magnificent flathead shown in this image was caught on a rod and reel off a beach in the vicinity of Pondalowie Bay, Yorkes Peninsula last summer. The proud fishermen are my husband and son.

With imaginings of a wonderful meal of fresh fish with lemon and baked potatoes, we prepared to clean the beast whilst enjoying a cold beer or two. Upon opening her belly however, we were dismayed to discover two swollen ovarian masses filled with millions and millions of eggs. She was ready to breed. And how.

We continued to clean her, and prepared and ate the meal but somehow it didn’t taste as good as we had at first predicted.

Now the fact that we had caught a top breeding flathead in her prime makes a bit more sense given a scientific publication released this week on recreational fishing. The German and North American scientists who performed the study looked at vulnerability to angling in largemouth bass. Fish which were more susceptible to being caught on a line were more aggressive, showed behaviours consistent with high intensity of parental care and had higher reproductive fitness.

The bottom line is that fish characteristics which make them more successful in passing on their genes to future generations also make them more likely to get caught. The fish that are left are less likely to breed well, which in the end will reduce fish stocks even further.

Another reason that fishing is not quite so appealing to me as it used to be.  But I am torn: should I catch my own fish in a relatively sustainable way, or purchase species from a fish-shop which has possibly sourced them from unsustainable commercial operations?

Things are complicated.

  1. Reblogged this on Sarah Keenihan.

  2. It’s tough. I will admit I love the feeling of fishing even if I don’t catch anything. The feeling though of setting a hook, striking and fighting a fish then landing, killing, cleaning and cooking is pretty good. When I do fish and catch something I only keep what I can eat in one sitting. To me it’s still an ethical way to be.

  3. Yes, it certainly is very enjoyable. I know my husband uses fishing as therapy: not necessarily the catching but the planning, analysis of tides, winds, waves, bait selection, time of day… consumes him on holidays! And there’s not much better than sitting quietly on a beach or jetty and letting the hours slide by.

    Children have put a severe hole in our fishing times! But they are getting older now, and starting to enjoy it themselves.

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