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The Montgomery Burns Perspective on Oceans in Peril

The IntersectionBy Sheril KirshenbaumAugust 16, 2007 8:48 PM


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I've received several emails voicing concern over fishing down food webs since posting last week about the Yangtze River Dolphin: the first cetacean species likely driven to extinction by human activity. Just remember, it's not a dismal picture when you hold the Montgomery Burns perspective! Keeping economics in mind, there's arguably reason to question whether we should fret over the oceans' dwindling and altered stocks. Human tastes are malleable, so we adapt to what industry supplies. For example, lobster and skate - traditionally the 'poor fisherman's dinner' - are now featured at NYC's finest restaurants. Thus, a boom in lower trophic level species creates newly emerging markets! When traditionally harvested species decline, there is tremendous opportunity to cash in by exploiting the next readily available critter. From Orange Roughy to algae...Why not allow every commercially viable animal possible its 15 minutes of fame? Hey, when life deals you jellyfish, make a salad! Garnish it with a fancy name, add a hefty pricetag... Excellent!

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