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Fish Are More Intelligent Than We Give Them Credit For

Source: The Spectator/Philip Hoare - January 9, 2017 in Science/Tech

Fish Are More Intelligent Than We Give Them Credit For
Photo: Stewart Butterfield/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The recent furore over a freakshow ice rink in Japan, with hapless fishes embedded beneath the skaters’ feet, was inexplicable to some. The fish were dead already, weren’t they, bought from the market? What’s the difference between eating them and gliding over their artlessly strewn bodies, posed as if in a frozen shoal like the porpoises Virginia Woolf’s Orlando glimpses in an iced-up Thames?

The difference is us. In a world sensitive to every nuance of use and consumption, fishes, like the sea in which most of them swim, are the new frontier. As the queer theorist and Sydney-based academic Elisabeth Probyn notes in her new book, Eating the Ocean (Duke University Press), our modern sensitivities — and the middle-class-driven search for ethically-sourced food — have resulted in a remorseless expansion. We are eating twice the amount of fish now that we were eating in the 1960s; the same period has seen a 50 per cent fall in fish populations.

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