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Classroom Resources: Impostor Fish

By Douglas Fox

October-December 2008 / Vol. 9 No. 4

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Discussion Questions

  • Is genetics relevant to conservation? How is this article an example of an application to conservation?
  • Why is accurate species naming important when tracking wildlife consumption? What will likely happen to global fish stocks if we can’t track the consumption of individual species? What will happen to the more rare species? Why is Dr. Peter Marko – quoted in the article – so concerned? What percentage of fillets his students sampled turned out to be something other than as named?
  • How does the global food market contribute to this problem? What role do regulations play? When you go to the grocery store, do you know where your food is coming from? What are the advantages and disadvantages both environmentally and economically, for a global food supply?
  • What role do corporations play in this? How could certification help? What specific companies could you write to for more information on their policies towards accurate labeling of wild caught fish?
  • What role does consumer preference play in all of this? If people were more willing to eat a “Slimehead,” do you think that this problem would go away? Could you design an educational campaign to make people aware of the importance of accurate naming for conservation?
  • What role did students such as your selves play in these labeling studies? Is it inspiring to think that you could do such groundbreaking science?

Websites for Further Information

Food labeling in the News

  • At long last, food labeling law is set to take effect (MSNBC, September 30, 2008)
  • Small type and large loopholes in new labeling law (New York Times, October 7, 2008)
  • Try the Slimehead? Delicious! (The Tyee, October 20, 2008):

Peer-reviewed Literature (in addition to the citations listed in the article)

  • Avise, J.C. 1998. Conservation genetics in the marine realm. The Journal of Heredity 89:377-382.
  • Hutchings, J.A., and J.D. Reynolds. 2004. Marine fish population collapses: Consequences for recovery and extinction risk. BioScience 54:297-309.
  • Jaquet, J.L., and D. Pauly. 2007. The rise of seafood awareness campaigns in an era of collapsing fisheries. Marine Policy 31:308-313.

Key Concepts

  • Collapse of marine fisheries
  • Consumer preferences
  • Genetics
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