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Native Canadians carried out sustainable fishing before Europeans decimated it: Study

The indigenous tribes of Canada practised sustainable fishing for nearly a thousand years to prevent the extinction of a few important species of fish, but their balanced system was destroyed by European settlers in the 19th century, according to a new study.

Tsleil-Waututh people, who once lived in British Columbia, used a sex-selection method while fishing, the study said, adding they did this to ensure the population of chum salmon does not decline. The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports on November 10, 2021 by researchers and archaeologists from the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University.

A team of archaeologists examined fish bones (dating between 400 BC and AD 1200) from Tsleil-Waututh villages around the Burrard Inlet. The majority of the remains were from male species. These findings suggest that indigenous tribes released female salmon into the water. Jesse Morin, an archaeologist at the University of British Columbia who authored the study, told the Canadian press that even if you take a large number of males out of the system, the remaining males can still mate with the females. One male can mate with ten females and have just as many baby salmon the following year.

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During excavations in the early 1970s, researchers analyzed fish vertebrae collected during the dig. The DNA test was used to screen for Y chromosomes, which are found only in male fish. This is the first time that the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique has been used on ancient fish remains, according to co-author Tom Royle, a post-doctoral student in archaeology at Simon Fraser University. According to the study, overfishing began with the arrival of Europeans in the Tsleil-Waututh Nation during the 19th century. Western settlers destroyed sustainable fishing methods.



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