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Proclucts Front the Sea ANIMAL PROTEIN Living organisms (mostly animals, but including some plants) that provide food and industrial materials are the most important resources that we take frown the sea at this stage in history. In the United States, we obtain a significant share (5 to 10 per cent) of our animal-protein food from the sea, but in some other nations (especially in Asia) protein from the sea is indispensable. The total annual production of the world's marine fisheries increased from 25 to 40 million metric tons between 1955 and 1969. This is an increase of about 7 per cent each year a rate that promises to continue in the near future. Of the total catch in 1961, 9.6 million tons went to the production of fishmeal (used for animal food, thus providing human food indirectly) and oil. This compares with about four million tons in 1955. The world's industrial uses of fish are increasing more rapidly than the use of fish directly as food for humans. The latter, however, still shows an aver- age growth rate of ~ ~/2 per cent per year, more than twice the rate of growth of the world's population. Most of this increase in fish harvest is a result of the activities of other countries. In the United States, consumption of edible fishery products has been for many years about 10 to 11 pounds per person per year. Our total in- creased use of fish for direct human food seems directly related to population growth. The total supply of fish destined for direct human consumption was 4,020 million pounds in 1949, and had risen to 4,593 million pounds by 1962. During these 14 years, the share caught domestically declined from 3,305 million pounds to 2,523 million pounds, while imports increased from 71o million pounds to 2,070 million pounds. During this same period, there has been a large increase in the indirect contribution of fisheries products to our diet through the use of fishmeal in foodstuffs for poultry and livestock. Most of the fish protein eaten by a growing chicken is retained as protein in its body. United States industrial fisheries products (mostly fishmeal and oily have a more favorable prospect than edible fishery products. Despite an increase in imports from the round-weight equivalent of 522 million pounds to 2,571 million pounds per year from 1949 to 1962, domestic production over the same period grew from 1,500 million pounds to 2,717 million 13
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pounds per year. While the share of the market supplied by domestic pro- ducers declined, their actual production nearly doubled. The value of the U. S. catch to the fishermen in 1962 was $381 million, which corresponds to something over a billion dollars of the Gross National Product, since the products approximately triple in value between the producers and the final consumers. From the 50 per cent of the total supply provided by imports, probably another half billion dollars was added to the Gross National Product by processing and marketing within the United States. An important function of U. S. marine research and development is helping our fishermen find means of catching fish more efficiently and land- ing them more cheaply, thus enabling them to recapture a large share of the domestic market ant! to provide a more abundant supply of animal protein at lower cost. This seems quite feasible. It is not the whole story, however, because the United States has substantial and rapidly growing interests in foreign fisheries. Our country imports large quantities of shrimp, tuna, and lobster. A large share of this imported food is produced by companies owned in whole or in part by U. S. operators. Likewise, a significant part of our fishmeal imports is produced by U. S. companies with foreign plants. U. S. companies operating overseas also market products in many other countries, both in the nearly 30 countries where their plants are located and else- where. Nearly all this foreign-based fisheries development by U. S. companies has taken place since World War II, mostly within the last 10 years, and the rate of development is accelerating rapidly. From a review of the imperfect information we have been able to obtain through trade channels, we can estimate conservatively that U. S. firms and individuals at the present time gross about $175 million a year from fishing operations conducted outside the United States. In the newly exploited sea area where most of these fisheries are being established, oceanographic research is an important aid to development. Increasing the U. S. domestic catch of fish requires the existence of suf ficient additional productive potential of fish stocks accessible to our fisher- men, and the existence of markets for the catch. Both of these conditions, we believe, can be satisfied if the necessary research is done on the living resources of the sea and methods of harvesting them. For example, a large population of anchovies exists off the coast of California, which appears to be capable of sustaining a fishery of about a million tons a year. Taking this catch should assist in rebuilding the , ~ , , - , ~7 stock of sardines faith which they compete. A very large unused stock of hake exists in the same region. Both these species are used primarily as fish meal. Research has shown that the population of jack mackerel off the Pacific coast, now supporting a catch of about 45,000 tons a year, could support greatly increased catches. Large stocks of demersal fish exist in the Bearing Sea and the Gulf of Alaska, as well as large populations of ocean 14
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perch (redfish) in the latter. Catches of over a million tons a year are being made by Russian and Japanese fishermen from these stocks. There is no good reason why U. S. fishermen should not participate in this bonanza. During the past two years, a new high-seas fishery by U. S. tuna vessels for bluefin tuna and for skipjack tuna has begun in the Atlantic. The presence of skipjack in commercial abundance was not known a few years ago. The new fishery for these valuable species, and for the tropical tuna species further south in the Atlantic, may be expected to grow to rival the present tuna fishery in the Eastern Pacific, which now produces landings valued at over $40 million a year. Continued growth of the Pacific tuna fishery is to be expected because, although the populations of yellowfin tuna and per- haps of albacore are near their level of maximum sustainable harvest, catches of skipjack tuna, certainly, and of bluefin tuna, probably, can be greatly increased. Continuing research will undoubtedly reveal many further new opportunities. So far as the domestic market is concerned, if our fishermen, through research and engineering, can recapture the share of the market lost to im- ports during the past decade and a half by cutting their production costs, an annual market for nearly 800,000 tons of edible fish and a similar amount of industrial fish would be provided. Additional markets exist in other countries, if prices are competitive. The world's burgeoning popu- lation and increased consumption of fishery products should assure a market in the foreseeable future. Research on the ecology and biology of the organisms supporting the marine fisheries is of direct economic value in two ways. ( 1 ) For those fish populations being substantially exploited, it can provide both the basis of more efficient catching operations, and the basis of "conservation" (maintaining the populations at levels that will produce maximum yields year after year>. Such fish populations are now in the minority, but they include the most valuable species in waters contiguous to the United States, and the more valuable species supporting U. S. overseas fishing operations. With the rapid increase in the world's fisheries, additional fish populations are being utilized to the point where conservation management based on scientific understanding is required. (2) For the populations that are little used, or not used at all, research on their habits and reactions to the chang- ing sea can provide the basis for developing means to catch them cheaply, so that they can be exploited economically in large volume. Such little- used fish stocks occur both in distant waters and near the United States. As we have pointed out, immense numbers of anchovy and hake live off the West Coast of the United States, and large stocks of demersal fishes exist ok Alaska. Rational development of the U. S. domestic fisheries could result in doubling the U. S. production in 15 years. The growth of overseas fisheries of the United States will be much more rapid, probably increasing by a factor of four within a decade. However, this growth rate cannot be estab 15