Re: reply to Danny Yee's review

Danny Yee (danny@ORTHANC.CS.SU.OZ.AU)
Wed, 23 Feb 1994 12:57:10 +1100

> I never expected to emerge from Danny Yee's dissection table unscathed,
> and that hawk-eyed reviewer did not disappoint me. I must say I'm
> puzzled at the "environment" as "Black Box" charge. I provide so much
> detail about the reef forms, beach forms, coral heads, outer reef
> slopes, currents, wave forms, tide patterns, wind patterns, channels,
> and windward shores where the fish are caught and whose conditions must
> be accounted for, that I have a lot trouble seeing those environmental
> details as a Black Box. If these are not environmental variables that
> constrain choices of and details of catch techniques, then I don't know
> what "environment" is. Indeed, I go so far as to include spirits as part
> of the fishermen's environment (with ritual, therefore, one more fishing
> technique). Not Guilty!

Hmmm... perhaps I didn't explain myself very well (or am assuming some
use of Black Box peculiar to physics). I thought my reference to "in
the absence of a marine biologist" might make it clearer what I meant.

Yes, you do look at the environmental variables that influence fishing,
however you don't look at the marine ecology itself. So there's no
discussion of fish population cycling, or the internal dynamics of the
marine ecology. (Treating something as a Black Box means you can look at
what comes out of it and what goes into it, but not what happens inside

Basically I am suggesting that human fishing activity might be so
closely coupled with the ecology that a better choice of system would
incorporate both. This may not be the case, but it'd be interesting
to see how a marine biologist's analysis of the atoll ecosystem links
in with your analysis of fishing; it is possible that the two would
be much more informative viewed next to one another, which would be a
good reason to treat them together.