Fish­nets: Wax­ing Philo­soph­i­cal

China Scenic - - Culture -

The more so­phis­ti­cated the net­ting, nat­u­rally the greater the threat to sea life. Given its strong ca­pac­ity and rel­a­tively ho­mo­ge­neous tar­gets, the in­tro­duc­tion of en­cir­clement fish­ing with large-scale nets has posed a threat to the very sur­vival of marine life.

Nets used for pond fish­ing, de­scribed above, is also an ex­am­ple. A wide net with fine mesh used in a small pond is ca­pa­ble of thor­oughly trawl­ing the very bot­tom of the en­clo­sure and ex­haust­ing its sup­ply of fish in one go. This is just short of drain­ing a pond in order to catch all its fish!

In fact, the an­cients long ago noted that man’s knowl­edge of fish­net fab­ri­ca­tion put them at odds with Na­ture. Thus the adage “To catch all in one sweep of the net” was born, the wise re­tort be­ing “Never cast a net of hole-free mesh.”

In an­cient times hunt­ing and fish­ing were not con­sid­ered dis­tinct ac­tiv­i­ties. Tar­gets for nets weren’t just marine life; they in­cluded an­i­mals in the moun­tains and birds in the forests. In the face of this drag­net cov­er­ing the air and the land, man’s prey had nowhere to flee. How­ever, the man-made dis­as­ters suf­fered by other liv­ing crea­tures will even­tu­ally be vis­ited upon mankind it­self. It is said that Con­fu­cius al­ways “fished with fish­ing rod, not a fish­net,” a sign of his moral de­cency.

The first per­son to ap­ply the les­son of the overuse of fish­nets to the field of hu­man gov­er­nance was Li Ge, who held the of­fice of His­to­rian of the State of Lu dur­ing the Spring and Au­tumn Pe­riod (770–476 BC). Lige’s

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