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As far as I know, Fishing has been one of the important occupation since early ages, and infinite number of fishes have already been captured.

As the time passes, they must've developed some sort of knowledge about the fish-nets, and should've figured out a way to escape from them. But, still now, we are able to capture them at the same rate(I guess)

So, Are they developing any sort of hereditary memory to escape from us?

P.S. I'm not sure whether this is the right SE to ask.

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    $\begingroup$ Pretty much the same reason we don't think the fish are developing psychic powers. There's no evidence for it, the mechanisms by which evolution is known to operate wouldn't produce such a thing, and it wouldn't explain any observed phenomena better than the existing explanations. $\endgroup$ – user2357112 Dec 19 '15 at 7:11
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    $\begingroup$ Evolution just doesn't work like that. Here, have a link to an explanation of how it does work. $\endgroup$ – user2357112 Dec 19 '15 at 7:44
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    $\begingroup$ How's this hypothesis @user2357112 - the effect of man's overfishing is to catch shoals and individual fish that are easier to catch. Therefore the more reclusive/cautious fish survive, which means those characteristics are passed one. I'd say that would be a reasonable approximation of inherited memory. $\endgroup$ – geotheory Dec 19 '15 at 9:42
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think its necessarily very different from cats fearing cucumbers - possibly an inherited fear of snakes. $\endgroup$ – geotheory Dec 19 '15 at 13:11
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    $\begingroup$ That's just fudging. $\endgroup$ – geotheory Dec 20 '15 at 21:06
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Fish are definitely evolving to avoid fishing pressure. For example, largemouth bass evolve toward avoiding hooks. More broadly, since fishing selectively removes larger fish from the population, there's selection toward fish evolving smaller size. A brief review, linking to many studies demonstrating this, is Evolutionary impacts of fishing: overfishing's ‘Darwinian debt’.

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    $\begingroup$ I would disagree with the phrasing "to avoid" and replace it with "in response to". The old adage about evolution not assuming a purpose applies here. $\endgroup$ – kmm Dec 18 '15 at 19:40
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    $\begingroup$ "in response to" implies a purpose as much as "to avoid" from my point of view. I'd rather use "as a consequence of". $\endgroup$ – Jose Antonio Dura Olmos Dec 19 '15 at 14:06
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    $\begingroup$ I understand the urge to avoid teleological words, but I think it's pointless and futile to worry about it once we're actually discussing real evolution. I realize that it's hammered into students at the very early introductory stage, but once the concept that there's no goal to evolution is solid -- which should be about a week after natural selection is first mentioned -- it simply becomes an exercise in semantics. If you read actual papers by actual evolutionary biologists, they pretty much all use shorthand language like this. We're all grownups here. $\endgroup$ – iayork Dec 19 '15 at 17:12
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    $\begingroup$ @iayork: I don't think it's safe to assume the questioner is past that very early introductory stage. Even if they are, this answer will probably be read by people who aren't past that stage. $\endgroup$ – user2357112 Dec 20 '15 at 3:26
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As iayork stated, fish have indeed evolved strategies to cope with fishing pressures. The problem is that evolution takes time, and humans are constantly inventing new fishing strategies. A thousand years ago, people caught fish by hand or with simple nets. Today, the fishing industry uses giant trawlers, sonar and other techniques.

At the same time, fish have to cope with increasing pollution and other environmental disturbances. Many fisheries have already been wiped out.

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Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

  • $\begingroup$ "evolution takes time" ? Fishing has been for more than 40,000 years, and yet same "fishing rate" so far? $\endgroup$ – Snazzy Sanoj Dec 19 '15 at 5:52
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    $\begingroup$ @SnazzySanoj: Fish have been predated for hundreds of millions of years. Early predation by humans (I would guess e.g. the first 39,000 years of the existence of tool-based fishing techniques) probably had little impact compared to other pressures. Modern industrial fishing practice is a huge pressure applied in a very short timescale. $\endgroup$ – Neil Slater Dec 19 '15 at 10:22
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    $\begingroup$ @SnazzySanoj: Recent human fishing pressure has caused fish to evolve dramatically, as is pointed out in the multiple references in my answer. Evolution takes time when the selection pressure is low, as is the case for most "natural" situations. When the selection pressure is very strong, as with modern fishing methods, evolution can proceed quite rapidly. Hence, we now see many species of food fish that reach a much smaller maximum size, for example. $\endgroup$ – iayork Dec 19 '15 at 12:29
  • $\begingroup$ Please could you add some supporting scientific material that reinforces your answer and allows further reading. $\endgroup$ – rg255 Mar 8 '16 at 7:37

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