What do you call it when fishermen are fishing for supposedly a specific species of fish and the net eventually end up catching surplus unwanted fishes of other species. What are these unwanted fishes called and what is the whole phenomenon called in which for sake of one the whole lot has to suffer.

PS: There is definitely mention of this phenomenon on Wikipedia which i misplaced

  • I guess the Wikipedia reference is related to "game theory" but i still can't find it.
    – AMN
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 10:06
  • 1
    Trumpism. Collateral damage. Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 10:46
  • 'For the greater good' is sort of what you mean.
    – JDF
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 15:00

2 Answers 2


It isn't completely clear if you are looking for a technical, industry term or for a metaphor or idiom. The industry term for the excess fish is Bycatch defined on Wikipedia as:

Bycatch, in the fishing industry, is a fish or other marine species that is caught unintentionally while catching certain target species and target sizes of fish, crabs etc. Bycatch is either of a different species, the wrong sex, or is undersized or juvenile individuals of the target species. The term "bycatch" is also sometimes used for untargeted catch in other forms of animal harvesting or collecting.

Sources which talk about bycatch don't seem to use a single term for the 'whole phenomenon... in which for sake of one the whole lot has to suffer', but do speak of fishing methods being 'non-selective' or 'indiscriminate'.


Collateral damage (or collateral mortality) is the non-fish-specific answer.

The Wikipedia article explains this as a military term to euphemize the killing of non-combatants during a mission.

The non-military section of the article mentions bycatch (@Spagirl's answer) as an example.

...The [terms] have been applied to other spheres in addition to the original military context. An example is in fisheries where bycatch of species such as dolphins are called collateral mortality; i.e., they are species that die in pursuit of the legal death of fishery targets, such as tuna.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.