Page images
PDF
EPUB

PACIFIC PILCHARD During the middle 1930's pilchard fishing along the Pacific coast was intensified through growth of the fleet of large purse seiners, increasing the exploitation 27-fold and doubling the yield. For the 9 years of this high-fishing rate a fairly stable yield has been maintained by selfrenewal. Biological work of the Fish and Wildlife Service has proved that this depended largely on sea conditions favorable to reproduction and survival of young for a number of seasons prior to 1940, and has suggested that during more recent years (1940–43) less favorable renewal conditions prevailed. Because the young from these years have not yet reached commercial maturity the full effect of these circumstances are not yet discernible. It remains to be seen whether this great biological resource yielding more than one half million tons of fish annually can hold up under the combination of moderate or poor reproductive conditions with the present high fishing rate. Unfortunately the research on this and related questions has been materially retarded during the last two years through cessation of sea work and diversion of personnel to war-emergency activities.

PROMOTION OF UTILIZATION

Conservation is concerned as much with the proper exploitation of animal resources as it is with their protection, since they have their maximum value to us only when they are fully utilized. It is one of the functions of the Fish and Wildlife Service, therefore, to promote the fullest utilization of the fishery resources. This it does by collecting and disseminating statistical and economic information, by carrying on research to improve techniques of catching and processing fish, and by working to enlarge markets for fishery products.

STATISTICS ON PRODUCTION To serve the daily commercial needs of the fishing industries, the Fish and Wildlife Service collects current information on landings of fish at the various ports, on the volume of stocks held in cold storage, on shipments from producing areas, and on prices in central markets. Thus fishermen on Long Island, in North Carolina, or in Florida, for example, are given a basis for judging the demand in New York City, Boston, or Chicago. Likewise distributors in those cities are apprised of shipments of salmon and halibut from Seattle and Prince Rupert, or of shrimp from Biloxi, long before the shipments arrive. This service is designed to expedite trading and to obviate commercial gluts and famines.

During the war years this market news service was augmented by complete coverage of war orders issued by the Office of Price Admin

istration, War Production Board, War Food Administration, Office of Defense Transportation, and other agencies whose activities affected the fisheries. Special issues of Fishery Market News, a periodical issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service, were devoted to listing O. P. A.'s maximum fish prices, and were used continuously by fish merchants throughout the war.

RESEARCH ON TIN SUBSTITUTES Early in the war, the shortage of tin plate forced manufacturers of metal food containers to use substitute metals, chiefly various steel plates. These were treated chemically or with lacquers to prevent corrosion when packed with fresh or processed food products. An important project of the Fish and Wildlife Service, then, was to test these wartime containers by actual use. Results of these tests, which were performed on a wide variety of materials, were used as a basis for action in fish processing plants. Our technologists also tested fiber containers which were treated with such waterproofing materials as paraffin wax and beeswax. From these studies, recommendations were made to the fishing industry on types of materials found suitable for the transportation of fishery products.

RESEARCH ON METHODS OF SAMPLING FISH LIVERS Early in the experimental work on vitamin-A rich shark livers, Fish and Wildlife Service technologists found that within the liver of each fish there is wide variation in the percentage of oil and in the vitamin-A potency. The earliest method of sampling for the determination of vitamin-A potency, which is the basis of the selling price, consisted of cutting sections from the liver. This method was inadequate, since a slight variation in the amount of oil contained in the livers would entail a considerable loss either to buyer or seller, depending on the direction of the variation. It was obviously necessary to devise a sampling method which would more accurately represent the total oil and vitamin content. This was a problem undertaken by the Fish and Wildlife Service at its Seattle laboratory. Extensive study and tests produced a device which takes a core sample down through the 5-gallon can containing the liver, and obtains quickly a sample representing the entire contents of the can with 95 percent accuracy. This device, now being patented under a public patent, is in wide demand by vitamin processors. DEVELOPMENT OF QUICK-FROZEN PRECOOKED FISHERY FOODS

A newly developed product which promises to modify our living habits in the future is frozen, packaged cooked food. This has found wide use during the war for serving on board transport planes and in battle areas where it was not feasible to set up kitchens. Not all cooked dishes remain palatable when frozen. Some mixtures become undesirably tough and leathery; hence special recipes must be developed. In response to a request from the Army Quartermaster Corps Subsistence Research Laboratory, the Fish and Wildlife Service developed a large number of recipes utilizing fishery products which are suitable for freezing.

The results of some of these tests have been published and others are being prepared for publication. Meanwhile, several commercial fishery firms are marketing precooked, packaged, frozen fishery products.

MARKET DEVELOPMENT At the end of August 1944, cold-storage warehouses throughout the country were stocked to capacity, fishery products alone amounting to a record total of about 123 million pounds. Army food authorities expressed concern over the situation and sought assistance in relieving the storage glut so that space for Army food stocks would be freed.

The Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation with the War Food Administration, immediately sponsored, planned, and executed eatmore-fish campaigns in several eastern cities. In these campaigns, which lasted 2 weeks to 1 month, posters, newspapers, radio broadcasts, car cards, and other media were utilized. Recipe books, leaflets, and bulletins containing marketing information about fishery products were distributed.

At the conclusion of the campaigns, fish dealers and retail food stores reported increases in sales amounting to 10 to 70 percent over previous similar periods.

VALUE OF THE FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

In the foregoing pages, it has been shown by a series of illustrations that the Fish and Wildlife Service enlarges national wealth through à variety of activities. To summarize these in general terms, the Service:

Increases the stocks of fish and of wildlife;
Resists depletion of our animal resources;
Enlarges knowledge about them;

Improves and extends the use of them. It is obviously as difficult and elusive a problem to evaluate these effects in dollars and cents as it is to evaluate the resources themselves. Yet an estimate has been made from such quantitative sources as are available. This estimate places on the total of these activities a value in the order of 30 million dollars a year.

IRA N. GABRIELSON, Deputy Coordinator

of

AMERICA'S fishery resources have emerged from the strain of war

as a vital element in the national life. During the period of hostilities they have been called upon to make large and essential contributions to the war program. This they have done. And not only have the Nation's aquatic resources provided, in larger quantity than was thought possible, the protein foods, vitamin oils, and numerous industrial materials needed for war, but they have been maintained in essentially sound condition and now stand ready to play new and increasingly important roles in the postwar period.

Likewise, the condition of the industry which makes these resources available to the Nation is good. In sharp contrast to the difficult days of 1942, when the fishing fleet had been crippled by the unavoidable requisitioning of 700 of its finest vessels for military operations, the industry now has the largest and most efficient fleet in its history. Some of the recent inventions and discoveries in the fields of science and engineering have already become part of the equipment of these boats; other developments, hitherto withheld from commercial use for security reasons, will soon become available and will give the fleet a vastly extended range and adaptability.

The part played by the Office of the Coordinator of Fisheries in bringing about the favorable condition of our aquatic resources and of the fishing industry now may be recorded in full.

The primary task which was assigned the Coordinator's Office upon its establishment in 1942 was that of restoring and maintaining the productive capacity of the fishing industry. That capacity had been badly shattered by the events of the first months of war. Yet if fish, shellfish, seaweeds, and other aquatic products were to be produced in quantities at least approximately equivalent to the wartime need, the facilities of the industry had to be restored and maintained at a high level.

1 The Office of the Coordinator of Fisheries was established by Executive Order 9204, July 21, 1942. Under the original order it was authorized to coordinate fishery policies, plans, and programs; this broad directive was later considerably extended and clarified by Food Directive No. 2, issued by the Secretary of Agriculture on February 8, 1943, under which the Coordinator of Fisheries received specific authority over the production of fishery products.

[ocr errors][merged small]

In all efforts to achieve adequate production, however, it was essential to guard against reckless squandering of our resources for a short period at the expense of the future. When the Coordinator's Office undertook its task, no one could foresee within even approximate limits how long the war would last. The fisheries are a renewable, but exhaustible, resource. The lessons of the last war were fresh in the minds of fishery administrators. At that time the valuable Alaska salmon fishery was overfished to provide a quick supply of food, and thereby suffered damage which has been repaired only after years of effort. The Coordinator's Office therefore adopted, and consistently maintained, the policy of protecting the fishery resources against excessive drains which would endanger their continued productivity, not only for whatever period the war might continue but in future years as well. In carrying out this policy, the Coordinator's Office opposed the removal or relaxation of conservation regulations for the sake of immediate, short-term benefit when it was believed that the permanent public interest would suffer thereby. The satisfactory condition of the fishery resources after 372 years of war is evidence of the wisdom of this policy.

PROVIDING THE MACHINERY OF PRODUCTION

While protecting the basic soundness of the fishery resources, the Coordinator's Office assisted the industry to build up its machinery of production. The fishing fleet had been reduced to critically low levels immediately after the entrance of America into the war. By the summer of 1945 it had been restored to its full prewar size, and its efficiency had reached the highest point in the history of the industry.

The rebuilding of the fleet was accomplished by authorizing the construction by the industry of more than 2,000 new fishing craft and by demonstrating to the Army and Navy the need for the return of as many as possible of the vessels that had been requisitioned for military service early in the war. Working in close cooperation with the War Production Board, the Coordinator's Office arranged for adequate quotas of gasoline and Diesel engines to provide power for newly constructed vessels and replacements in old vessels. In addition, it assisted in providing engines and motors of various types, pumps, refrigeration equipment, and machinery for canneries and other shore plants.

In connection with the building program and with repairs and replacement of fishing equipment, the Coordinator's Office approved allotments of controlled materials, including steel, copper alloys, and aluminum, at the average rate of $10,000 worth of materials per day (for the period from May 1943 through June 1945) or a total of more than 9 million dollars' worth of materials.

« PreviousContinue »