May 28, 2017

GOOD FOR FISH:

The Magna Carta was good for humans - but even better for fish (JOHN BURNSIDE, 5/28/17, New Statesman)

It may look like a minor clause in one of the greatest historical documents of all time, but the insertion into Magna Carta of this single clause - "All fish-weirs shall be removed from the Thames, the Medway, and throughout the whole of England, except on the sea coast" - had as benevolent an effect as any of its better-known demands.

Up until then, the king's weirs, while they maximised his own catch, had prevented far too many fish from returning to their spawning grounds upriver, and so had a disastrous impact, especially on salmon populations. Within a few years of Magna Carta the rivers were teeming with life. So much salmon was available that at the height of the season monks at some abbeys begged their abbots for greater variety in the kitchen. Yet increased salmon stocks benefited many abbeys and the fish became an important part of the economy.

Posted by at May 28, 2017 7:58 AM

  

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