no matter what passes

Kee Lin

The phrase comes from The Old Man and the Sea, but what does it mean?

I may lose so much line that I will lose him, if he makes his effort and the drag made by the oars is in place and the boat loses all her lightness. Her lightness prolongs both our suffering but it is my safety since he has great speed that he has never yet employed. No matter what passes I must gut the dolphin so he does not spoil and eat some of him to be strong. ——The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Miller Hemingway
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