Standard Talk (15 mins) Australian Society for Fish Biology Conference 2022

There’s more to fish than just food: Exploring the diverse ways that fish are useful to society  (#15)

Mark Kennard 1 , J Vitule 2 , J Cucherousset 3 , J Olden 1 4
  1. Australian Rivers Institute, Griffith University, Nathan, Qld, Australia
  2. Departamento de Engenharia Ambiental, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba Paraná, Brazil
  3. Laboratoire Evolution et Diversité Biologique, Université de Toulouse, Toulouse, France
  4. School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA

Fish are one of the most biodiverse vertebrate groups on the planet, playing important roles in ecosystems, supporting considerable commercial and recreational fishing industries, and providing a major source of protein and nutrients for much of the world’s human population.  The multiple intrinsic, ecological, socioeconomic and cultural values of fish are relatively well-recognised. Indeed, most people rarely think about fish other than as pets, a recreational prize, a basis for inspiration or worship, or as a source of protein or income. Much less appreciated are the diverse additional ways that fish have contributed to human societies over multiple millennia.  This paper explores the many uses of freshwater and marine fishes, focusing on their contributions to manufacturing and industry, technology, health and sexuality, tools and weapons, apparel and jewelry, musical instruments, and as curios, souvenirs and attractions. The examples presented in this paper demonstrate that the relationship between humans and fish is much more than food, and the different ways people use fish continues to grow rapidly, posing new questions and challenges. Rising concern about environmental sustainability related to overfishing and intensive aquaculture production has prompted increased interest in reducing waste and maximizing use of by-products of the fishing industry – this is leading to novel and creative uses of fish.  We hope that increasing awareness of the ways in which fish are used by our societies will help to promote the conservation, sustainable management and ethical treatment of fish now and into the future.