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Dec 21, 2016
We’re no longer nomads, so we should farm more fish
Combing through history, seafood industry veteran Phil Walsh combs finds no reason to restrict aquaculture
Around 12 thousand years ago a group of Homo sapiens departed Africa, where the species first appeared 150 thousand or so years earlier, and found their way to a region we now know as Iraq. Nomadic by necessity, early man sought a life devoid of the eternal hunt and constant threat of starvation. After centuries of working with wild beasts native to their new land, they settled on cattle, sheep and goats as their livestock of choice. All three formed herds, stayed close when given good pasture and were quick to forsake their savage ways.
In perhaps the greatest unintended consequence of all of history, taming wild animals and consequent ability to settle in one place allowed enough free time for writing, architecture, cities, civil process and metallurgy; in short, civilization.
Two thousand years later, following a century of experimentation with some of the 12 thousand species of grass in the world, early man chose to cultivate wheat, barley, rice and millet, because they grew fast, resisted blight, and were able to remain wholesome in long-term storage. Man remains drawn to open fields of grass to this day, particularly when it belongs to them, perhaps explaining why Americans spent $30 billion on their lawns last year, more than we did on foreign aid.
According to carbon-dated bone fish hooks (East Timor, 2011), man has been fishing for 42 thousand years. The gear – rope made of hemp and weirs formed from twigs and sticks – did little to deplete abundant fish stocks. That all changed in 1954, however, when British investors launched a 290-foot steel stern trawler designed to steam across the Atlantic to fish Canada’s Grand Banks. Read the article