Learn More About Turning Genes On

Human activities represent unique selective pressures for natural populations. This is especially true for fish species where we routinely harvest individuals from the wild, i.e., through fishing. It has been recognized for some time that overfishing can result in population crashes. More recently it has become clear that selective harvesting can result in evolutionary changes. For example, by fishing only large individuals there is selection to reach maturity at a younger age and smaller size and to direct more resources towards reproduction. For a review of fisheries induced evolution, see Heino et al., 2015.

An interesting (depressing?) phenomenon in fisheries is the lack of recovery of many populations even after the cessation of fishing. Atlantic Cod provide a prime example of this issue. In the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the population initially collapsed in the 1980’s and fishing was largely stopped in 1993. However, the fishery has still not recovered (Swain et al., 2007), perhaps, in part, due to fishery induced evolution.

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