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Of the 2,002 vessels that had been authorized for construction by June 30, 1945, many were already fishing at that time and all but 85 were scheduled for completion by the end of 1945. In only a few classifications of vessels—notably tuna clippers and large New England otter trawlers—was the fleet still below the prewar level at the end of the fiscal year 1945. The tuna clippers were necessarily among the last to be replaced by new construction and by June 30, 1945, none had been returned by the military services. These vessels, which are among the largest and fastest of the fishing boats, require an especially large amount of materials and equipment. About a fourth of the new vessels are shrimp trawlers, for use in the major fishing industry of the South Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. Because of the greater range and modern equipment of these new boats, the efficiency of the shrimp fleet has been greatly increased. Many large otter trawlers, especially from the New England fleet, were requisitioned for war service. They proved so valuable for military purposes that some are still retained. However, the new medium trawlers and draggers replaced them so effectively that many records for production were broken early in the 1945 season. Throughout the entire war period, the situation with respect to nets, hard-fiber twine, and cordage remained tight. Requirements of netting for camouflage purposes were heavy. By careful surveys of the needs of the various fisheries and scheduling of orders well in advance of the fishing season, it was possible to avert any major shortage of fish nets which would have interfered with production.
THE MANPOWER PROBLEM
The manpower shortage, both or fishing boats and in fish-processing plants, was acute throughout the war, becoming progressively more serious as more and more of the highly skilled fishermen were refused deferment. Through its membership on the Inter-Agency Committee the Coordinator's Office was able to demonstrate the irreplaceable status of some of these men, whose skills had been attained through long experience and whose knowledge was indispensible to the effective performance of the fishing boats. Deferment was obtained for some captains and mates, even in the younger age groups. While in general it was possible to recruit enough crew members to keep the available boats in operation, there were isolated instances where boats remained idle because there were no crews to man them. In the food-processing plants, the shortage of workers was so acute as to act as a brake on production at various times and places, especially in the Sardine canneries of both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
PRODUCTION PROGRAMS FOR THE MAJOR
Throughout the greater part of the war period, the salmon and pilchard fisheries, which together produce about one-third of the total poundage of fish taken in the United States, operated under production programs administered by the Office of the Coordinator of Fisheries. The Alaska salmon fishery operated under such a program in 1943, 1944, and 1945. The much smaller salmon fishery in Puget Sound was placed under a similar program in 1944 and 1945. The pilchard production program under the direction of the Coordinator's Office was undertaken in 1943. These programs enjoyed the active cooperation and approval of the great majority of the fishing industry which each season requested the continuation, and in some instances the extension, of the programs.
ALASKA SALMON INDUSTRY The production program applied to the Alaska salmon industry, the operating units of which are scattered over vast distances of the Territory, was in effect a consolidation which brought about a pooling of the available resources of manpower, boats, and canning equipment. This was done by concentrating the canning of salmon at certain key centers, and providing for the joint utilization by the various firms of the available facilities of production.
The consolidation was made necessary by the fact that the armed forces had taken over a large percentage of the tenders and power scows used by the industry in Alaska waters and also because not more than 50 or 60 percent of the normal supply of labor was expected to be available.
The concentration order for the 1943 season provided for the canning of the year's catch in 74 (later increased by amendment to 77) of the largest and most modern plants rather than the 120 plants previously used, and reduced the number of lines of canning machinery from 226 in 1942 to 131, with provision for maximum use of the high-speed machines.
The concentration program was designed to accomplish: (1) A reduction in manpower requirements by about 5,000 persons; (2) reduction of north-bound passenger accommodations by approximately 4,000 persons; (3) reduction in north-bound tonnage by 17,742 tons; (4) reduction in floating equipment by 86 tenders and 50 scows; (5) reduction in fishing apparatus by 48 traps, 25 purse seiners, and 67,130 fathoms of gill nets.
The program was considered so satisfactory that at the close of the 1943 season representatives of the salmon industry requested the Coordinator of Fisheries to take immediate steps toward a continua
tion of the plan in 1944. It was felt that the consolidation had saved the industry from becoming involved in ruinous competition for labor, transportation space, and equipment. As a result of its operation, the industry was able to increase its production of canned salmon, even though operating fewer plants, with less labor and less equipment than it would have used under normal conditions.
Because the situation, especially with respect to boats and equipment, had eased somewhat by the spring of 1944, the concentration program for that season was more liberal than that of 1943 in that it authorized the operation of 89 plants compared with 77 the previous year. Other important changes in the 1944 order were the assignment of manpower quotas to the various canneries, the quotas having been established previously by the War Manpower Commission. The 1944 order also provided that all persons, companies, and corporations
authorized under the terms of the order to engage in salmon canning
must obtain a license from the Fishery Coordinator.
The concentration program followed in 1945 was essentially similar to the 1944 order.
PUGET SOUND SALMON INDUSTRY
In order to save manpower and equipment, the Puget Sound salmon canning industry was placed under a concentration order at the beginning of the 1944 season. The concentration was effected at the request of the industry, in order that wartime operations in the Puget Sound salmon fisheries might be conducted as advantageously as those in Alaska.
The number of plants canning salmon in Puget Sound in 1944 was reduced from the usual 11, to 3—fewer plants than had operated in any year since 1893. Under the concentration plan, the largest plant in the area packed salmon for 9 firms. It was estimated that a saving of more than 525 cannery workers and tender operators was accomplished. In addition, there were considerable savings in the use of Diesel oil and the maintenance of cannery equipment.
The industry was continued under a similar concentration plan in 1945. However, four instead of three plants were authorized to operate, to provide for the somewhat heavier runs of salmon expected in the Puget Sound area that season.
PACIFIC PILCHARD INDUSTRY
The pilchard production program, which was directly concerned with a billion pounds of fish or nearly a quarter of the annual fishery production in the United States, differed considerably from the salmon concentration plan in its purposes and methods.
Unlike salmon, pilchards or Pacific sardines have several major uses, being processed into oil and meal in addition to being canned. Although each of these uses is important, the production of canned fish was considered most essential, the demand for this easily transported protein food for war purposes being greatly in excess of the supply. The production program for the pilchard fishery was therefore administered with a view, not only to increasing production, and conserving manpower and materials, but also to diverting the largest possible proportion of the catch to the canneries.
The first order issued by the Office of the Coordinator of Fisheries for the control of the production of pilchards became effective in the 1943–44 season. Under this order, all vessels engaged in pilchard fishing operated under permits issued by the Coordinator of Fisheries through his local representatives. The order applied to all vessels of 20 net tons or over, which had fished for pilchards at any time subsequent to May 31, 1940.
Although operating under the control of the Coordinator's Office because of the emergency, the industry remained under the general provisions of the State laws with respect to seasons and fishing areas. The Coordinator of Fisheries and his designated representatives were concerned largely with the distribution of fishing vessels among ports, with the delivery of the catch to canneries and reduction plants, and with determining how much of the yield should be canned and how much should be processed as meal and oil. Normally, about a quarter of the catch is canned as the familiar Pacific sardine and the balance is processed into meal and oil.
Generally speaking, there was gratifying cooperation on the part of the fishing fleets and shore plants in operating under the program, There was a stable and for the most port a well proportioned distribution of boats between ports and deliveries to the plants within the ports were in proportion to the quantities each plant could process. There were few instances where boats were delayed in unloading and these occurred only when huge catches were made on a number of successive days, clogging port receiving facilities.
During the second season in which a production program was followed, many of the difficulties met in its original operation were solved. As a result of this circumstance and of the generally more favorable conditions (additional boats, good weather early in the season, steady runs of fish) production during the 1944-45 season increased 15 percent over the previous year, and the pack of canned sardines increased 19 percent.
The quantity of canned sardines requisitioned by the Government was increased from year to year with the mounting needs for this protein food, in high demand because it is so easily transportable. During the 1943-44 season, the Government set-aside orders amounted
o approximately half of the total pack. The following season the Keration for Government purchase was increased successively w Sy went at the beginning of the season to 55 percent in the early months of fishing, and finally to 100 percent of the pack at the season's end. The Government requisition announced at the beginning of the 1945–46 season was 80 percent of the pack.
ALLOCATION OF HALIBUT An order providing for the allocation among dealers of all halibut landed at United States ports on the Pacific coast became effective June 23, 1944. Under the terms of the order all persons or firms were prohibited from purchasing halibut without a permit issued by the Office of the Coordinator of Fisheries. The principal purposes of the order were to distribute halibut as efficiently as possible to meet war and essential civilian needs, to provide the various markets with essentially normal portions of the product, to support the pricecontrol program of the O. P. A., and to facilitate the maximum production of halibut with minimum expenditure of critical materials and marpower.
In 1944 landings of halibut were allocated among dealers in each port on the basis of the total landings at that port handled by each dealer in a previous period, selected as a base. In 1945 the order was modified to provide for allocation to each dealer in accordance with his share, during the base years, of the halibut business of the entire coast, without regard to where the fish were landed. This amendment was intended to improve distribution, and to protect dealers from the effects of shifts of landings from port to port. The amended order also provided for the conditioning of permits to insure more rormal distribution to inland markets.
PRODUCTION RECORDS DURING THE WAR PERIOD
The yield of fishery products suffered a drastic reduction during the first year of war. The normal peacetime yield of the fisheries is about 4.4 billion pounds. In 1942, however, the catch declined to 3.9 billion pounds under the stress of war-created difficulties of operation. By the end of 1943, the programs of the Coordinator's Office were beginning to exert their effect and the catch rose to 4.2 billion pounds. In 1944 it actually exceeded the peacetime average, a production of 4.5 billion pounds being achieved. During the first 6 months of 1945, still further gains were recorded in the fisheries as a whole.
Considered by classes of fishery products, the yield, in comparison with the need, was uneven. At no time was there enough canned fish to supply all civilian needs after essential war requirements had been met. Nor was there enough fish meal and oil for animal feeds, or oils for industrial purposes. The domestic vitamin oil industry developed by mighty strides, supplying the fish liver oils that formerly were obtained largely by import, but by 1945 it was apparent that additional domestic sources of oil would have to be discovered if the