"Trophy Hunting" Leads to Smaller Fish

March 3, 2009 By: Marshall Cutchin

In Newsweek magazine, writer Lily Huang explores the impact of the selective hunting of animals by hunters and fishermen: namely, that the species involved tend to “miniaturize.” “The phenomenon has been most apparent in harvested fish: since fishing nets began capturing only fish of sufficient size in the 1980s, the Atlantic cod and salmon, several flounders and the northern pike have all propagated in miniature.” One possible upside mentioned in the Newsweek piece is that smaller animals may enjoy greater survivability. (Thought of in this sense, the taking of big fish for records might provide a sort of competitive advantage to the record-holders, as the population is literally shrunk by the loss of larger animals.)
As Nick Mills points out in the Maine Outdoor Journal, “a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the changes in size and reproductive behavior are caused far faster by human predation than by changes brought about by pollution or the introduction of alien species.”