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Overfishing Could Be Spawning Smaller Fish

July 16, 2001|From Times Wire Reports

The reason fishermen are catching smaller fish than their predecessors might not be just because all the big ones have been caught, scientists say.

They say research indicates that as bigger fish are removed from the population, the smaller fish left behind take on more influence in breeding the next generation.

"It's like [eliminating] all the people who are 7 feet tall; they will become rarer and rarer and you'll have only small people left," Steven Murawski of the National Marine Fisheries science center in Woods Hole, Mass., told the Boston Globe.

Scientists say it is difficult to sort out what is true genetic or evolutionary change and what is a short-term physiological adaptation that will end when fishing pressure does.

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