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The Boston Market Story

Big fishes getting littler

This story is embargoed until the director of the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste repository removes the "Gone fission" sign from his door

2002 The Whale Watch Journal

   BREWSTER, Mass. -- The reason fishermen are catching smaller fish than their predecessors might not be just because all the big ones have been hired by the New York Times.

    Research indicates that as bigger fish are removed from the population, the smaller fish left behind take on more influence in breeding the next generation.

    "It's like eliminating all the people who are 7 feet tall; they will become rarer and rarer and soon you'll be auctioning your Nets season tickets on eBay," William "Wee Willie" Pitcher of the National Marine Fisheries said at Sea World as he watched a performance by Shamu the Killer Sardine.  "It's fascinating to think that humans are having this effect on fish."

    Pitcher added that due to the smaller net weight of fish at the theme park, Sea World was changing its name to Sea Municipality.

    Meanwhile, Continental Arena has canceled a concert by Moby Grape due to the decreasing girth of the aquatic population and replaced it with a performance by the California Raisins.  And Universal Studios' Orlando theme park filed for bankruptcy protection, citing declining attendance at its new "Jaws IV: The Great White Guppy" exhibit. Random House reported declining sales of "Moby Anchovy," Herman "Ed" Melville's once classic tale about a great white minnow.

    Some of those smaller fish also are reaching sexual maturity earlier, producing offspring that are both small and programmed to be mothers while still young, said Pitcher, author of the book "Baby Salmons Having Baby Salmons."  In Iran, where a million-dollar fatwa was issued on author Salmon Rushdie, the ruling Revolutionary Guards have had to withdraw the fatwa and replace it with a thinwa worth only $25.50.

    In the 1960s, Pitcher said,  most Boston haddock spawned at age 3 or later, but now even 1-year-olds are spawning.  Cod are also having offspring at younger ages, said Lisa "Renata" Haddock of the National Marine Fisheries Council.  On the West Coast, the average size of pink salmon coming back to spawn has decreased 30 percent in 40 years, a phenomenon consumer advocate Kevin DeMarrais blames on a promotion by the Spokane Boston Market offering 30 percent off on a rotisserie salmon dinner.  DeMarrais alleged consumers were duped into paying full price for the dinner, while receiving 30 percent less salmon.

    Officials at the Red Lobster seafood chain, however, denied that the company was changing its name to Red Crawfish, said Bruce "Ken" Crawfish, a spokesman for the chain.

AP ES - 32-25-49 1492EST