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Image - The hope that new knowledge and technology may lead to increased wealth from the sea has heightened global interest in marine affairs. Offshore oil production is second only to fish as a source of marine resource revenue.
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The Commission has approached its assessment of marine resources with two overriding concerns: (1) that the United States not be confronted with a critical shortage of any raw material and (2) that both marine and nonmarine resources be developed through a policy which will advance economic efficiency. Further, the Commission recognizes that the U.S. interest in marine resource development must be viewed in terms of world needs and capabilities. The sea is a global source of goods and services for all mankind.
Not all resource needs have the same urgency. The Nation and the world face a few truly critical problems, a number of significant opportunities to advance both national and international interests, and other situations which can currently be accepted as relatively satisfactory.
It is impossible to deal with development and management issues in terms of marine resources as a whole, although general policy considerations must be accommodated. The Commission, therefore, has considered separately the economic and legal problems associated with such areas as fisheries, oil, gas, and hard minerals and has made numerous recommendations (in Parts II and III of this chapter) for change in national and international policies and law.
In our society, the economic uses of the sea are primarily within the province of the private sector. The Commission recognizes the need for Government to strengthen industry's role in expanding the scope and scale of marine operations.
The character of the Government-industry relationships will have an important bearing on the nation's effective use of the sea. The Commission's views on Government and industry roles and the steps to encourage private investment in marine enterprises are outlined at the end of this chapter.
The rate at which the World's natural resources are being used poses impressive challenges to human ingenuity to find and develop new sources. Accelerating resource use emphasizes the dire need to halt the profligate waste of many resources. Consumption of metals in the next 35 years is expected to exceed that of the last 2,000 years. Energy use in the next 20 years is estimated at three times that of the last 100 years. Even more sobering, world food production must increase by 50 per cent over the next 20 years to keep pace with growing populations; food
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needs will double in India, Pakistan, and certain Latin American nations.
Experts are optimistic that we will meet these resource needs, as we have met them in the past. The prices of most basic commodities in the United States actually have declined slightly relative to overall price levels--indicating confidence in the future as well as present abundance. But this should not be taken as a signal to relax efforts to develop new sources. Though on a. global basis the estimated supply of most hard minerals from land sources appears adequate to meet estimated requirements at least until the year 2000, such estimates are fraught with much uncertainty. Appropriate action now will permit us to prepare in an orderly way to meet needs in the coming decades and to enlarge the options for furnishing new streams of raw materials to sustain our growing economy.
Marine sources already contribute importantly to our supplies of oil and gas; our dependence on the sea for these materials is certain to grow. The sea's food resources must be used more fully to overcome protein deficiencies in certain regions of the world; they offer all nations the promise of a richer, more varied diet.
The availability to the United States of specific resources often is threatened by mismanagement, natural disasters, and political developments. Therefore, the United States must have alternative sources of supply. Prudence demands continuing exploration of new regions; improvement of new extraction, harvesting, and processing technology; and proving of new reserves. It must be remembered, too, that accurate assessment of resource potentials requires some experience in their production.
The Commission, in evaluating marine resource potentials, has considered the duality of U.S. interests reflected by its national and international roles. Accordingly, the Commission rejects the idea that self-sufficiency in natural resources is a desirable goal for American policy. U.S. national policy clearly recognizes the benefit to the international community of expanding commerce in raw materials. U.S. national policy recognizes this fact in aiming to reduce progressively the restrictions on international trade. Measures to assure some minimum level of domestic production may be needed in certain cases to protect the United States from politically motivated actions that could curtail supplies of petroleum or other key minerals. But it is incumbent on the opponents of a policy favoring a reasonable degree of freedom in international trade to weigh the alternatives and justify their costs to the American consumer. Efforts to favor certain domestic industries are not in the national interest if they raise production costs to levels which
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burden other segments of the domestic economy or provoke retaliatory action by other nations. In the long run, actions that strengthen the Nation's industrial base and productivity also strengthen its defense capacity.
Nor is the need to improve the U.S. balance of payments a proper guide for long-range programs affecting marine resources. That need must be viewed in terms of the overall pattern of commodity and service trade, financial transactions, and international commitments. Piecemeal substitution of domestic production for imports simply reverts to the costly policy of self-sufficiency.
The Federal Government bears responsibility for negotiating international legal frameworks within which all nations may share equitably in using the sea's resources. Such arrangements may also have critical impact on efficiency of resource use. The United States has much to offer other nations in providing more effective techniques for tapping the sea's resources and will need their help in implementing international programs to permit all nations to use the sea to their benefit.
Government also bears a responsibility for establishing a framework of domestic law to undergird our private enterprise system. Currently many marine resources are treated as common property, available to all for the taking but exclusively available to no one. The common property system is no obstacle to economic development if resources are abundant, technology simple, and investment minimal. But it is not appropriate for large-scale industrial activities in a highly technological, mobile, and capital intensive economy, and it is slowly yielding to arrangements to assign resource development rights.
In sum, the national interest in resources and their development place a premium on having a range of sources to which the Nation may turn. The lead time to appraise and define resources for future use and to develop the necessary industrial organization and technology demands forward planning. A global perspective and a high measure of reliance on private enterprise are necessary to assure flexibility and efficiency in meeting resource demands within the discipline of the market system.
Among the harvests of the sea, those of living resources must have a primary place in a plan for marine development.
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Fishing is important to our Nation in terms both of providing Americans with a more varied diet and of providing the basis for profitable industrial activity.
Expansion of world fisheries production is a matter of advancing on several fronts at once--improving the technical efficiency of harvesting known stocks, locating and defining new stocks, recasting the institutional setting for fisheries management, developing new end products from presently unused or underutilized species, and opening up the new field of aquaculture.
If man's fishing activities continue to be confined to the species now utilized, to the locations now regarded as exploitable, and to the equipment now available, it is unlikely that production could be expanded much beyond 150 to 200 million metric tons--three to four times present levels. But if man's activities were not so confined, far greater quantities of useful, marketable products could be harvested to meet the increasingly urgent world demand for protein foods.
It is, therefore, more realistic to expect total annual production of marine food products (exclusive of aquaculture) to grow to 400 to 500 million metric tons before expansion costs become excessive. Even this estimate may be too conservative if significant technological breakthroughs are achieved in the ability to detect, concentrate, and harvest fish on the high seas and in the deep ocean.
It is important to recognize that there are biological limits on the productivity of individual
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stocks of fish and shellfish. Wise use of living marine resources is not only a matter of expanding output from underutilized or unused species and areas but also of effective management of those subject to overfishing. The management system must be structured to preserve the productivity of heavily fished populations without discouraging the technological and marketing progress required to push productive activity into new areas and into the use of new species.
As demand grows, it will become increasingly important for the United States, alone and in cooperation with other nations, to establish more accurately the dimensions of the many living resources usable to man and to estimate the production that can be taken from them without impairing future yields.
Aggregate figures conceal the changes occurring within the industry. Total output has been growing at a rate of more than 6 per cent per year since the end of World War II, the sharpest growth occurring in recent years.
The growth has not been evenly distributed among the various fisheries. There have been tremendous increases in some areas, like the Peruvian anchovy and the South African sardine fisheries, and actual declines in others as a result of overexploitation, deterioration of spawning areas, and natural causes. If expansion in the use of living resources of the sea is to continue, improvements in technology, market development, and processing must keep pace with the needs to move farther afield and to utilize lower-valued species. The rapid increase in fishmeal use for livestock feeds and the potential development of fish protein concentrates from heretofore unmarketable fish foreshadow both the needs and the opportunities to utilize lower valued species.
Rapid growth in the harvest of living resources of the sea reflects the strong world demand for animal protein foods. Although per capita consumption of sea foods tends to level off at the income levels attained in highly developed nations, population growth and increased
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use of fishmeal in livestock feeds continue to expand demand for a broad range of fish and shellfish products. Demand for these products has grown even more spectacularly in the less developed areas, where protein deficiencies are chronic. These are precisely the areas in which population growth is greatest. There can be little doubt that the world demand for food from the sea will continue to press production capacity for the foreseeable future. Moreover, as modern technology provides the means for altering the form, texture, and keeping qualities of fish, the increased diversity of food products from the sea should lead to even stronger demand.
Although revolutionary developments in high seas fishing technology have greatly expanded the range and efficiency of modern fishing equipment, harvesting techniques in many parts of the world are still extremely primitive. The processing and marketing sectors of the industry are considerably more advanced, but they still have far to go before they reach the technical level of other segments of the food industry. Full utilization of the potential for food from the sea requires full attention to the research and development that will convert the worldwide fishing industry into a modern segment of a modern food industry.
The specter of hunger and malnutrition, haunting mankind from the beginning of time, threatens to become more acute over wider areas of the world. Considerable attention and publicity have been given to the use of the ocean's resources to combat world food problems. Although marine food sources will never be sufficient to solve these problems, they should play an important role in the solution. The nutritional qualities of marine food products, their worldwide distribution, and the relative ease with which they can be produced in areas of critical need make it vitally important that the world use them efficiently. Only a handful of highly developed nations are capable of providing adequate diets for the bulk of their populations. Until world population growth is brought under control, all possible sources of food from land and sea must be exploited.
For the foreseeable future, overall calorie requirements of the human diet can be met from land production. But ocean food production is important in world nutrition as a source of edible oils and proteins with a well-balanced amino acid structure. These needs of themselves are sufficiently large and urgent to compel a greatly accelerated effort at both national and international levels, and within both government and industry to overcome scientific, technologic, and institutional barriers to a more efficient and expanded harvesting of the ocean's food resources.
The United States can give strength and momentum to this effort through the example of its own policies and programs and through vigorous support of multilateral fisheries development programs of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the United Nations Development Program, the World Bank, and other international agencies. Action by the United States to upgrade the technical capability of its own fisheries will develop new techniques and products, such as fish protein concentrates, that will benefit the entire world industry. Furthermore, U.S. firms can expect both to participate in the expanding markets of the developing nations and to contribute to their programs to overcome deficiencies in protein foods.
Sensible fisheries management must prevent overexploitation of heavily utilized species and, at the same time, provide incentives
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to expand catches of underutilized species.
Most existing programs to regulate fisheries, whether national or international, seek to limit exploitation to levels that provide the maximum sustainable yield of the species in question. Harvest in excess of these physical limits will result in depletion of the resource. Underexploitation will also result in permanent losses to mankind because natural mortality will eliminate the biologically surplus fish.
The preservation of the stocks should not be the sole aim of fisheries management. Indeed, it is nearly impossible to adhere strictly to the maximum sustainable physical yield
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concept if two or more ecologically interdependent species are being exploited. Of necessity, the biological objective then must be accompanied by an economic objective--to maintain the maximum sustainable composite yield producing the greatest economic return.
Furthermore, fisheries are common property in that no fisherman has exclusive access nor may he keep others from sharing in their exploitation. Fishing situations in which total revenues exceed total costs induce additional fishermen to enter the fishery and encourage additional effort by those already in the fishery. As a result, no individual fishing unit has the incentive to restrict fishing effort to that which will maximize economic return over the long term. The more competitive the fishery, the more destructive the race to catch fish before others can take them. The result is an industry with excess capacity relative to what is required to catch the maximum sustainable yield. This situation restricts fishermen and vessel owners to low, unstable incomes and may result in total production less than that obtainable with less investment and effort.
It is not only possible but also normal for such excess capacity to develop quickly, particularly in a new fishery, and to persist over long periods of time because of the traditional immobility of labor in the fisheries and the related ability to maintain capital equipment at little or no real cost.
More fish can be taken by pushing effort beyond the point at which marginal revenues will equal marginal costs. But because costs will then increase more than revenues, the additional fish will not be worth the additional effort required to produce them.
Many measures employed in fisheries management, including those called for in international fisheries agreements--for example, limitations upon the areas in which and the time when fishing may be conducted, the prohibition of specific types of fishing gear, and overall catch limits--achieve their conservation objectives by increasing the costs of operation and thereby, hopefully, decreasing the incentive to fish. To the extent that these measures attain their conservation objectives without raising production costs, they simply encourage more unnecessary fishing effort.
Conservation regulations affecting the minimum age and size of the fish that may be caught can be sound from an economic as well as conservation point of view because they tend to reduce the costs of operations. But if successful, they increase the profitability of the fishery and again encourage an intensification of the fishing effort that threatens to dissipate the potential improvement in net economic yield.
Fisheries management usually reacts to greater fishing effort by shortening the fishing season. So, for example, the conservation program in the Puget Sound salmon fishery succeeded in increasing physical yields, but this success has produced such an influx of boats and gear that fishing is allowed only 2 or 3 days per week. Probably no more than half the gear now in use could harvest the catch at a saving of perhaps 40 per cent of the gross value of the landings.
Similarly, the Pacific Halibut Commission restored the halibut yield and raised the total catch limit by about 25 per cent over a period of 20 years. This induced a 300 per cent increase in the number of participating vessels. Consequently, the original 9-month season
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was shortened drastically--at one time to 24 days on one major fishing ground--with substantial undesirable effects on fishing and marketing costs.
Boats and men must find off-season employment, which invariably involves some loss in labor time and idleness of equipment that cannot be recovered. Processing capacity must be enlarged to handle the production peaks and it remains underutilized for much of the year. Higher storage costs are incurred, and the risks involved in holding frozen inventory over longer periods of time ultimately are borne by the fishermen in the form of lower incomes. The resulting higher costs of the products of these fisheries make them vulnerable to price competition from imported fish and other lower priced protein foods.
Finally, the economic absurdity of deliberately imposing higher costs on the fishing fleets involved provokes resentments which lead to violations of the conservation regulations and to great difficulty in enforcing them.
The goal of domestic fisheries management must be the development of a technically advanced and economically efficient fishing fleet with the minimum number of units required to take the catch over a prolonged period of time. This goal must be achieved in fisheries which are now heavily overcapitalized without seriously dislocating those fishermen who entered the industry in good faith.
The existing international law of fisheries makes it impossible for the United States alone to move toward the economic objective of maximizing the net economic return of U.S.-flag fishing vessels participating in international fisheries. If, for example, the United States alone sought to limit the number of its vessels in such fisheries, other nations could increase the number of their vessels and prevent the United States from increasing its share per unit of effort.
Within those fisheries to which the United States has exclusive access, action might be taken at the Federal or State level, as appropriate, to control the input of fisheries effort. But any action to limit entry must be tailored to local conditions and needs and designed to accommodate local practices. Fishing is an ancient business, and its practitioners often are less concerned with economic efficiency than with the simple fact of making a living from the sea. Fishermen may be perfectly aware that a half-dozen modern, efficient ships could harvest the permissible crop with high monetary return, but they still may prefer a system under which a number of fishing families can eke out what, to them, is an adequate living of the kind they prefer. Because such fishing communities form the constituencies of important elements in State legislatures, their desire to maintain the status quo has a strong influence on fishing legislation and on regulations of State agencies.
The Commission recognizes that needed changes must be made, in the interest of simple equity, at a pace which does not compel individuals to leave an established way of life. Steps to improve fishery management should be carefully devised, tested prior to implementation, and applied in selected fisheries as they become ready for such action. The Federal Government can assist by providing both opportunities and incentives
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to the States and to carry out such programs.
The discussion above necessarily is couched in general terms with emphasis on economically sound principles of management. A number of more specific proposals to achieve the goal of improving fishermen's net economic return are discussed in the Report of the Commission's Panel on Marine Resources.
The situation of the U.S.-flag fisheries stands in sharp contrast to the record growth of the world's high seas fisheries. Landings by U.S. vessels have remained almost constant over the past three decades, and during that period the United States has dropped from second to sixth among the world's fishing nations. U.S. vessels land about one-third of the total fish consumed in the United States and harvest less than one-tenth of the total production potential available over the U.S. continental shelf. Although there are areas of successful performance--most notably in the tuna and shrimp fisheries--and although the U.S. catch is third or fourth if measured by dollar value, the U.S. fishing
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fleet by and large is technically outmoded. It cannot mount the high seas effort required to maintain a position of world leadership, and it is incapable of attracting a stable and efficient labor supply.
The decline in the U.S. fishing industry is even more surprising in view of the strength of domestic demand for fish and shellfish products. Although per capita direct consumption has remained virtually stable over the past 30 years, population growth provides a continuously expanding market, and U .S. agriculture has made extremely efficient use of the cost-reducing possibilities of fishmeal as an ingredient in livestock feeds. As a result, total U.S. consumption has risen sharply since 1950, but all of the increase has been met by expansion of imports rather than increased domestic production.
There is no reason why the United States should be completely self-sufficient in fishery products any more than in any other products. The aggregate welfare of the fishing industry, including its processing and marketing sectors, and of the American consumer dictate the desirability of purchasing marine products from the cheapest and best source. It is noteworthy that the two healthiest segments of the U.S. industry, the tuna and shrimp operations, are among the largest importers of fish but have also expanded the demand for domestic production.
The Commission believes that important segments of the U.S. fishing industry can be restored to competitive, profitable operation. To do so will necessitate overcoming a complex of obstacles to efficient operation that have severely hampered the U.S. fleet even in areas where U.S. technology and capital should have given it a competitive advantage.
Federal and State Management Roles
A major impediment is the welter of conflicting, overlapping, and restrictive laws and regulations applying to fishing operations in the United States. With jurisdiction over fishery management and development largely in the hands of the States and with lines of authority between State and Federal Governments ill defined, the responsibility for action is hopelessly splintered. Moreover, the tendency toward parochialism in the individual States has led to a mass of protective legislation that militates against research, development, and innovation. Consequently, the fishing industry has been slow even to borrow useful techniques from other industries, much less to pursue a progressive program of its own.
In part, the difficulty reflects the pressures on the States to find some way to limit the take from overexploited fisheries without excluding any of the participants. The inevitable result has been rules which increase cost, are awkward to administer, and are cumbersome to enforce. But this is not the whole difficulty. Although fish migrate freely across State lines, the Commission was unable to identify a single instance of systematic programs being prepared jointly by two or more States for the management or development of their fisheries resources. Rather, State laws are a patchwork which lead to confusion and encourage violations. Lobsters too small to be landed legally in Massachusetts may be sold in Rhode Island. The waters of the Chesapeake Bay are partly in Virginia, partly in Maryland. Although the fish for the most part are migratory and move freely from one State to another, the basic management philosophies and fishery laws of the two States differ in several fundamental respects. Even the oyster industry would benefit from modernization and coordination of the States' laws, but few States have reviewed their fishing laws to eliminate outmoded and conflicting provisions.
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Interstate cooperation in fisheries has been relatively unsuccessful. Three interstate commissions exist--the Atlantic States, Gulf States, and Pacific Marine Fisheries Commissions. But none has regulatory powers nor adequate staff. Their function is to exchange information on common problems and to recommend legislation and administrative action to the executive and legislative branches of the member States.
Under existing statutes, the Federal Government has no explicit role in the management of fisheries within U.S. territorial waters. In view of the discouraging lack of coordination among State programs, the Commission concludes that Federal leadership and guidance--and when necessary, regulatory power--must be asserted.
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and policies for the development and utilization of migratory marine species for commercial and recreational purposes in cooperation with other Federal agencies, States, and interstate agencies.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (BCF) should encourage interstate cooperation for regulation and conservation, sponsor research on the impact of institutional barriers inhibiting the efficient development of our commercial fisheries, and encourage enactment of improved State laws relating to the regulation and conservation of such fisheries. The Federal Government also should reorient its own fisheries research and survey activities in support of specific fisheries missions.
The measures proposed above should strengthen the U.S. fishing industry and improve the fisheries programs of the various States. However, the Commission anticipates that these measures alone may be inadequate to meet the development and management needs of certain fisheries.
Vessel Subsidy Program
Although the U.S. fishing fleet is the world's second largest, about 60 per cent of the vessels are over 16 years old and 27 per cent have been in service over 26 years. Some fisheries, like tuna, shrimp, and Alaska king crab, have fairly modern fleets, but advances in fishing technology during the past few decades have made most of the U.S. fleet economically, if not physically, obsolete.
Important obstacles to building a modern U.S. fishing fleet are existing laws on registration of fishing vessels and on the landing of fish in U.S. ports. Under one of these laws, U.S. fishermen are unable to register foreign-built fishing vessels; another prohibits the landing of fish in U.S. ports directly from fishing grounds unless landed in U.S.-registered vessels. In combination these laws effectively prevent our fishermen from taking advantage of lower foreign shipyard costs.
Rather than remove the vessel registration limitation, Congress enacted a vessel construction subsidy act. But the subsidy has not achieved its objectives. A provision requiring a finding that the grant of subsidy not cause economic hardship to others in the fishery has resulted in denial of subsidy to those parts of the industry most in need of aid to modernize their fleets. Because there is no provision for retiring obsolete vessels, the program has operated in other cases simply to add to the problems of fisheries already heavily overburdened by excess capacity. Statutory limitations on annual expenditures prevent approval of all qualified applications, and the subsidy generates new inequities as it corrects old ones.
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If the recommended action is not taken, the vessel construction subsidy program should be expanded and used to modernize segments of the U.S. fisheries that could then compete effectively with foreign producers. This would require, however, modification of the present program as outlined in detail in the Report of the Panel on Marine Resources.
Research and Technical Programs
The Bureau of Commercial Fisheries historically has placed greater emphasis upon biological research than on exploratory fishing and gear development. The Bureau spends nearly $20 million annually on general life histories, on investigations of the environment, on effect of environment on the availability and distribution of resources, and on management theory. By comparison, between $600,000 and $1.5 million has been spent annually on exploration, and less than half of that amount has been devoted to gear development. These funds, furthermore, have been so committed to continuing, geographically dispersed projects that the Bureau's ability to mount new programs has been restricted severely. Consequently, it has not been able to provide industry with the assistance necessary to keep pace with the rapid strides in fishing efficiency so evident in other major fishing nations.
It is essential that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (BCF) concentrate its efforts on areas and species which offer the greatest opportunities for successful economic expansion. These might include mid-Pacific tuna, demersal and other fish and shellfish resources in the Gulf of Alaska, anchovy off the southern California coast, clupeids in the Gulf of Mexico, alewives (and their predators) in the Great Lakes, and Pacific hake. Development in these high-potential fisheries can be profitably pursued along well-defined lines:
Research and Surveys Despite a substantial effort extending over many years, knowledge of the stocks available off U.S. coasts and of the factors determining their yield is far from adequate, particularly for relatively low-valued species. A key need in developing new fisheries is for an exploratory effort to establish the dimension of the resources which U.S. fishermen can reasonably expect to harvest profitably.
Such an expanded survey program must be Government supported. No single fishing enterprise or group of fishing enterprises could afford to undertake this work because of the high cost of the operations required and because they could not expect to capture more than a small proportion of the economic benefits generated.
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The program is needed also to establish the basic datum for managing fish resources on a rational basis. Only by delineating resource potentials can overfishing be detected before the damage is done and new fishing grounds be identified to relieve the pressures on the old.
The speed with which potential fishing areas can be systematically evaluated depends on funding, personnel, the availability of ship time, and the efficiency of survey techniques. A survey program which gives priority to species and areas in which U.S. vessels might have a strong competitive advantage has been outlined for the Commission by the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries (BCF). By adding 11 chartered vessels to its fleet, BCF could map completely the groundfish and shellfish resources of the U.S. continental shelf and complete preliminary work on pelagic and midwater fisheries within 10 years. The Commission endorses this proposal.
Surveys and exploratory fishing designed to reveal potentially exploitable stocks must be accompanied by basic studies in population dynamics in order to evaluate the long-term value of a new fishery. The abundance of the
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stock, its susceptibility to environmental changes, and its relationship to other species must be determined in order to establish its maximum sustainable yield.
Sound fishery policy decisions also require improved fisheries statistics. There is an urgent need for standardization of statistical materials and compilations. Additionally, the Federal Government should initiate programs to fill the gaps in State data collection, either by financial assistance to the States or direct participation of BCF personnel.
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Technical Programs Improvement of conventional fishing gear and use of equipment developed in other countries offer opportunities for cost reduction in U.S. fisheries. BCF's design and construction of a large midwater trawl, coupled to a simple but highly effective electronic sensing device, provided the necessary first step toward a potentially large new hake fishery. Development of a rapidly sinking purse seine that will take such fast-swimming fish as skipjack tuna promises to open new opportunities for tuna vessels. U.S. vessels have hardly begun to use the various types of conventional sonar gear already standard aboard many foreign fishing vessels. Work on a selective shrimp trawl that would reject most of the trash fish while protecting the quality of the desired catch promises more economic production of pandalid shrimp.
Investigation of more radical approaches to fisheries problems also is a legitimate and important part of a balanced program to rehabilitate the U.S. fisheries. Intriguing possibilities exist to aggregate fish into areas where they could be taken by highly efficient, mechanized harvesting systems; marine resources might be tapped at lower trophic levels and their high protein value put to practical use. Advanced data handling systems, coupled with systems to detect and forecast productive fishing areas, might reduce the time which fishermen must spend hunting for harvestable fish schools by as much as 50 per cent.
Details of a recommended program are set forth in the Reports of the Commission's Panels on Marine Engineering and Technology and on Marine Resources.
The best research and technology development will be of no avail if not put to effective use. The fragmented character of the U.S. fishing industry and the large number of independent operators accustomed to established fishing techniques pose a considerable challenge to any technology transfer program. Yet the Commission believes such a program to be a vital complement to the strengthened scientific and technical effort which it has proposed, and it urges early action to establish appropriate extension activities.
The Sea Grant Program and the State Technical Services Program of the Department of Commerce can provide some of these services. Also, the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act of 1968 (P.L. 90-577) provides general authority for the Federal Government to assist State and local governments in their technical service activities. We would expect the proposed new agency to survey the existing needs in this area, examine the extent to which current programs are adequate to such needs, and take appropriate
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measures through the Sea Grant or other programs to bring concerted attention to the transfer of information to fishermen.
Fish Protein Concentrate
A program is underway to perfect low-cost commercial processes for the production of fish protein concentrate (FPC) as one element in the attack on the worldwide problem of animal protein deficiencies. However, a number of serious misunderstandings about the nature of the program still exist, as do a number of discouraging obstacles to large-scale production.
The term fish protein concentrate covers a large family of products, some already used in large quantities while others remain in the embryonic stage. Fishmeal used in livestock feed is a form of fish protein concentrate. World production of fish protein concentrate in this form has grown from about 500,000 tons in 1964 to more than 4 million tons in 1966.
The objective of the present Federal FPC program is production of a concentrate that can be used as a protein supplement in soups, breads, and beverages for direct human consumption. This use requires a substantially larger reduction in oil content and in certain other types of undesired elements and more stringent sanitary standards than are required for fishmeal production.
Thus far, research and development efforts by both US. industry and the Federal Government have concentrated on producing a tasteless, odorless commodity that could be stored over long periods of time, could be transported cheaply, could overcome aesthetic objections, and could have the widest range of uses as a dietary supplement. The research effort has concentrated on processes using such lean fish as hake that are readily available and lend themselves to the production of the desired kinds of concentrate.
Tastes vary throughout the world, and many different kinds of fish protein concentrate ultimately will be developed to meet the demand. There is no fixed degree to which taste and odor must be removed or grittiness reduced. The keeping qualities of the product need not be uniform, and the product will not be consumed in the same form all over the world. The very high standards initially established as a research goal may not need to be followed in the production of all kinds of fish protein concentrate for all purposes.
FPC will find its most important use as a dietary supplement in areas of the world where consumption of proteins, especially animal proteins, is chronically below minimum nutritional requirements. Unfortunately, these are the very areas where sophisticated market development techniques and organization are scarce and where demand for a tasteless, odorless, colorless dietary supplement is particularly difficult to develop. It is likely, therefore, that FPC will be used to alleviate protein malnutrition through institutional feeding programs, supported by governments, for some time to come.
The United States has undertaken to supply limited quantities of FPC to foreign countries through the Agency for International Development. This commitment may be very difficult to fulfill, for neither industry nor BCF has yet resolved all the technical problems that stand in the way of commercial production at competitive prices. Both of the processes approved by the Food and Drug Administration still require the development of a technique for efficient recovery of the solvent used and less denaturation of the protein to permit more flexibility in blending with formulated foods.
There are no insuperable barriers, but the budget of the FPC program must be increased sufficiently to carry through its present plans, adapt the initial concentrating
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process to fatty fish, and investigate other production methods.
The Commission does not regard the FPC program as a major element in rehabilitation of the U.S. fishing industry at this time, although it may stimulate some new fishing activity for hake, thread herring, anchovy, or other latent or underutilized species. U.S. firms participating in the U.S. Government development program should be best able to realize the potential of FPC technology. In the immediate future, their best opportunities will be in the establishment of processing plants in regions throughout the world where the need for FPC is the greatest and cheap supplies of fish are available. However, the Commission recognizes that in future years it may become economically feasible to produce FPC domestically for domestic consumption and for export.
Emphasis should be placed on achieving more effective collaboration with industry so that U.S.-based firms can participate in bringing advanced FPC technology to bear on production problems and in developing commercial markets for various types of FPC. As requirements dictate, the United States should be prepared to assist in underwriting
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of FPC in institutional feeding programs.
Each coastal nation, unless limited by treaty, has the right of permanent, exclusive access to the living resources found in its internal or territorial waters and contiguous fishing zone as recognized in international law. The freedom of all nations to fish on the high seas is one of the freedoms specified in the Convention on the High Seas. Nevertheless, this freedom is beclouded by the extravagant claims made by a few nations with respect to the breadth of the territorial sea and the exclusive fisheries zone. It also is limited by bilateral and multilateral treaties and agreements and is restricted by the coastal nation's right of exclusive access to the living, sedentary species on the continental shelf.
The United States is a party to the worldwide Convention on Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources of the High Seas and to the following five multilateral fishery agreements which are more limited in scope--the international conventions for the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries, High Seas Fisheries of the North Pacific Ocean, Conservation and Protection of North Pacific Fur Seals, and Inter-American Tropical Tuna and the International Agreement for Regulation of Whaling. The United States also will be a party to the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna, which is expected to come into force before 1970.
The United States and Canada are also parties to three bilateral conventions--Preservation of the Halibut Fishery of the Northern Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea; Protection, Preservation, and Extension of the Salmon Fishery of the Fraser River System; and Great Lakes Fisheries. In addition, the United States has agreements with Japan affecting king crab in the North Pacific and other fisheries in waters adjacent to U.S. coasts; with the Soviet Union affecting king crab and other fisheries in the North Pacific and fisheries in the western mid-Atlantic Ocean; and with Mexico on certain fishing matters of common interest.
The United States also belongs to a number of United Nations organizations, principally the Food and Agriculture Organization and certain of its subsidiary bodies, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, the U.N. Development Program, and the World Bank, which play an active role in the development of commercial fisheries all over the world.
It is difficult to estimate the value of the U.S. catch of fish and shellfish in areas governed by international fishery conventions to which the United States is a party. But it accounts for an appreciable portion of the value of the total U.S. catch and is growing
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in importance. Moreover, fishery conventions also affect U.S. imports from the areas covered by the conventions, a portion of which may be accounted for by U.S. companies operating under foreign flags.
Evaluation of Existing Framework and Recommendations
The Commission has considered and rejected the following principal alternatives to the existing framework which have been proposed to govern exploitation of the living resources of the high seas:
The Commission concludes that U.S. objectives regarding the living resources of the high seas can best be attained by improving and extending existing international arrangements, in the development of which the United States has participated for more than 50 years.
National Catch Quotas for the North Atlantic Cod and Haddock Fisheries
The dominant objective of practically all the fishery conventions is to maintain the maximum sustainable yield of the fish stocks under their governance. We have previously stressed the inadvisability of regarding this biological result as the only aim of international fisheries management and urged that, at the least, such management should not make it impossible for fishing nations to conduct profitable operations.
The Commission concludes that fixing national catch quotas is a promising way to make it possible for participating nations to improve the profitability of their operations in certain important fishing areas of the world. We do not suggest that a national catch quota system should be instituted immediately in every high seas fishery. It should be attempted first where it is most likely to succeed, and its effects should be assessed before it is more widely used.
The cod and haddock fisheries of the Northwest Atlantic are ripe for such an attempt. Fourteen nations, including the United States, adhere to the International Convention for the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries (ICNAF). Moreover, many fishing fleets in the ICNAF area also operate in the area governed by the Northeast Atlantic Fisheries Convention (NEAFC), to which 13 nations, but not the United States, belong. Nine countries are parties to both conventions. Consequently, adoption of national catch quotas for the ICNAF area alone could increase fishing pressure upon the NEAFC area, which also faces a grave situation, and vice versa, nullifying any potential economic gain from national catch quotas for fleets operating in both areas. For this reason, the proposed quota system must embrace the cod and haddock fisheries of the entire North Atlantic.
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and Region 1 of the NEAFC area (East Greenland, Iceland, and the Northeast Arctic). This single annual overall catch limit should be designed to maintain the maximum sustainable yield of the fishery and, in turn, should be divided into annual national catch quotas. The overall catch limit should be adjusted regularly to take account of such factors as year-class fluctuations of the stocks, recovery of the stocks due to conservation measures, and errors in setting prior limits.
Every participating nation should be authorized to transfer all or part of its quota to any other nation.
The idea of national catch quotas is not new. Such quotas in a variety of forms are now used by the United States and Canada in the salmon fishery of the Fraser River system; by the United States, Japan, and the Soviet Union in the agreements relating to king crab; and, in effect, by the United States, the Soviet Union, Canada, and Japan in the conservation of North Pacific fur seals. There also are various informal international agreements fixing national catch quotas to which the United States is not a party.
Catch quotas would satisfy the felt needs of the nations participating in the cod and haddock fisheries of the North Atlantic. At the high level of fishing intensity reached during 1962-65, mortality in these fisheries exceeded limits that would maintain the maximum sustainable yield. Indeed, a reduction in total fishing effort of 30 to 40 per cent in the case of some stocks and of 10 to 20 per cent in the case of others would sustain the catch over the long term and perhaps even increase it. If total effort in these fisheries is reduced 10 to 20 per cent, it is estimated that aggregate annual savings of $50 to $100 million can be realized by all participants.
The position of the United States in these fisheries is particularly serious. Because of
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heavy catches by the Soviet fishing fleet and the limited mobility of the U.S. trawler fleet, the United States has suffered declining catches. It is estimated that the maximum sustainable catch of Georges Bank haddock can be taken with a sharply reduced fishing effort which, in the long run, could increase the average catch per unit of effort by about 50 per cent over the 1963-64 level.
Yet a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) indicates that, if nothing is done to reduce it, fishing effort in the North Atlantic may further increase by as much as 15 to 30 per cent by 1970. This probably will result in a decrease in the total catch as well as reduction in the catch per unit of effort.
ICNAF has discussed the idea of national catch quotas since 1965. The idea was endorsed and elaborated in 1967 by an ICNAF Working Group on Joint Biological and Economic Assessment of Conservation Actions. A standing Committee on Regulatory Measures continues to examine its economic and administrative aspects. At ICNAF's 1968 meeting, the United States proposed the establishment of national catch quotas as an appropriate solution of the critical problems facing the North Atlantic fisheries. ICNAF is still studying the matter.
The ICNAF Working Group concluded in 1967 that a system of national catch quotas was feasible and enforceable. The Working Group recognized fully that greater benefits could be obtained if each separable cod and haddock population could be managed as an independent unit. It could not, however, devise any enforceable procedures of this type, since there is no way of identifying the area of capture with sufficient accuracy.
The fixing of national catch quotas does not guarantee that each nation participating in the fisheries will actually realize the economic gains made possible by the quota system. If a nation does not restrict its fishing units to the minimum number required to take its quota over a prolonged period of time and if each of these units is not of maximum efficiency, it will dissipate the potential gains. For example, the ICNAF Working Group's study of U.S. operations on Georges Bank haddock revealed that if the number of fishing days per vessel were reduced by 30 per cent, leaving unchanged the number of vessels and manpower devoted to the fishery, only very small long-term benefits would be achieved by catch quotas and short-term losses would be inflicted on both vessel owner and crew. But if the input of capital and labor is curtailed to allow full utilization of the remaining fishing capacity, an immediate and substantial improvement of the economic situation is certain, and, in the long run, the industry would become highly profitable.
To assure that each nation rationalizes its fishing effort, it has been proposed that ICNAF directly allocate to each participating nation the maximum amount of fishing effort that it may devote to the fisheries in question, making certain that the total amount of fishing effort allocated will maximize the net economic return from these fisheries.
There are both practical and policy objections to this alternative. As a practical matter, it is presently impossible to devise a workable program to restrict fishing effort directly. Total fishing effort is a function of many factors--the number of vessels employed; their size, power, and type of gear; the number of hours spent in fishing and the particular season and grounds fished. To date, there is no internationally accepted unit of fishing effort which combines all these factors. Even if there were, it would be virtually impossible to enforce direct limits on the amount of fishing, particularly
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the number of hours fished by vessels far from home.
Furthermore, the variations among countries of fishing methods and economic and social conditions produce different cost structures and market preferences which make it difficult to determine objectively at what level of total fishing effort the maximum net economic return would be obtained.
Even if these difficulties could be surmounted, this alternative would be undesirable, because it would force every nation participating in the fisheries to adopt maximization of net economic return as its domestic policy. By contrast, the recommended national catch quota system will enable each nation to use its quota in the manner it decides is best suited to its internal conditions. It may seek:
We have previously discussed the problem of rationalizing U.S. fishing efforts generally, and this discussion also is applicable to U.S. participation in the North Atlantic cod and haddock fisheries.
Early Consideration of National Catch Quotas for High Sea Fisheries
of the North Pacific
The problems confronting the nations participating in the North Atlantic cod and haddock fisheries are not unique. The situation in the North Pacific is rapidly approaching that of the North Atlantic.
Canada, Japan, and the United States adhere to the International Convention on the High Seas Fisheries of the North Pacific (INPFC). The recommended quota system would help to resolve the impasse over the abstention doctrine that confronts INPFC.
INPFC is the only fishery convention in which member nations agree to abstain from fishing for specified stocks of fish (salmon, halibut, and herring) in specified areas of the high seas. The abstention principle has been strongly advocated by the United States and justified on the ground that the nation through whose investment a high seas fishery has been developed, and through whose regulatory efforts (and consequent restraints upon its fishermen) it is being conserved, should have priority in its exploitation and, if the stocks are being fully utilized, even the right to exclude other nations which made no similar contributions to the fishery. In the case of Pacific salmon, for example, the United States maintains that it has restrained its own fishermen for more than 50 years and spent hundreds of millions of dollars for pollution control, fish ladders, fish hatcheries, artificial propagation, and research to protect and enhance the salmon population.
The abstention doctrine has been attacked on many grounds. While it is acknowledged
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that a nation which keeps its fishermen from depleting a resource has an equitable claim to the cooperation of all other nations in its conservation efforts, it is denied that it also has an equitable claim to exclusive access to the resource. The latter claim, it is argued, seeks to preserve a status quo that discriminates against the developing nations and that conflicts with the freedom of the high seas.
However the equities may be judged, it is most unlikely that the abstention doctrine will be acceptable as a means of excluding new entrants from fisheries already being exploited fully. The doctrine was rejected when the United States proposed it during the deliberations that preceded adoption of the Convention on Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources of the Sea. Its application in the North Pacific has engendered controversy between Japan, on the one hand, and Canada and the United States, on the other. The United States also must consider that it, too, may be a prospective entrant into the fisheries of many areas of the world from which it would not like to be barred by the abstention doctrine or have the doctrine used to justify admitting it on unfavorable terms.
Preferential Treatment of the Coastal Nation
Expanding claims with respect to the breadth of the territorial sea and the exclusive fisheries zone have provoked a series of acrimonious international disputes. Of gravest concern to the United States is the dispute between it and certain Latin American countries.
Ecuador, Mexico, Honduras, Panama, Peru, and Colombia have seized U.S. vessels for fishing in waters in which these countries claim exclusive fishing rights but in which the United States claims the freedom to fish. Since 1961, half of the U.S. tuna vessels have either been chased, shot at, or seized. Through June 1967, a total of $332,702 has been paid to the named countries to secure the release of vessels and crews. The Department of State has not succeeded in recovering any part of this money from the seizing governments.
The Fishermen's Protective Act, originally
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passed in 1954 and amended in 1968, entitles U.S. vessel owners to reimbursement for any fines, license, or registration fees they must pay to secure the prompt release of their seized vessels and arrested crews. It also authorizes a temporary, 4-year voluntary insurance program under which the Secretary of the Interior will reimburse:
The Commission concludes that, as a general principle, coastal nations should be given preferential access to the living resources nearest their coasts as a means of lessening the international tension provoked by the kind of situation just described. It is not easy, however, to apply this principle in particular cases.
For example, the Latin American countries seizing U.S. tuna vessels take relatively small quantities of tuna. To the extent that the existing international framework safeguards the freedom of distant water fleets to fish for stocks which coastal fishermen are not exploiting fully, it encourages the development of the vast food reserves of the sea without hurting the coastal nations. We assume, as is the case in Latin America, that the distant water fleets are not overfishing, interfering with coastal fishing by gear conflict, or upsetting the ecological balance.
This fundamental and desirable feature of the existing framework should not be sacrificed to allay groundless fears of the coastal nation.
The Commission urges that serious consideration be given to assuring coastal nations a reasonable opportunity to participate in the exploitation of fish stocks nearest their coasts. This assurance should take the form of an agreement to allocate national catch quotas whenever the coastal nation requests such quotas. The quotas should be allotted to guarantee the coastal nation a minimum amount or percentage of the catch.
Effectuating this proposal may necessitate the requirement that the coastal nation catch its quota with vessels carrying its flag.
It is impossible to predict whether these assurances and programs would suffice to induce the Latin American countries in question not to seize U.S. fishing vessels outside the 12-mile limit. But it is also difficult to see what else the United States can reasonably be expected to offer.
The latter requirement restricts the flexibility the President must have in exercising his responsibilities. It subordinates all foreign
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policy objectives of the United States to the one aim of resisting unwarranted claims to exclusive access to certain fishery resources. It will exacerbate relations between the United States and the Latin American countries to the detriment of their common goals. The total amounts paid under the Act will not be great and may even be much less than the losses U.S. interests will sustain if other retaliatory measures or diplomatic ruptures result from compliance with this requirement.
The Territorial Sea
If the suggested means of preferring the coastal nation proves to be acceptable, it may also serve the important purpose of removing the impetus to extension of the territorial sea that derives from concern over access to fisheries. It may then become possible to secure agreement on a narrow territorial sea consistent with the totality of U.S. interests in the oceans.
Strengthening International Fishery Organizations
Coverage Many of the existing conventions do not encompass all the waters in which the resources in question are to be found. Furthermore, they seek to regulate designated species of fish while the increasing sophistication, range, and flexibility of modern high seas fishing equipment tend to make species regulation unrealistic. Even if effective, species regulation tends to shift fishing pressure to other species or to restrict development of underutilized fish in the same area.
Finally, taken together, the existing conventions cover only a small part of the actual, and even a smaller part of the potential, catch from the world's fisheries.
Adoption of the recommended quota system in the North Atlantic, and possibly the North Pacific as well, will shift fishing pressure to other areas of the world. To the extent that capital and labor made redundant as a result of a quota system are shifted to the exploitation of unused or underutilized fisheries, the quota system will help to achieve the primary world objective of maximizing the use of the living resources of the sea. But redundant capital and labor also may be shifted to areas that are beginning to show signs of depletion and are not covered by any fishery convention. This illustrates the need for a worldwide system of regional fishery conventions, each tailored to its particular biological, environmental, and economic conditions but all integrated in a truly international framework of analysis.
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evaluating the operations of existing fisheries conventions, suggesting measures to improve and coordinate their activities, and recommending the establishment of new conventions. The establishment of new conventions should not await the threatened depletion of particular fish stocks.
The commissions created by these conventions should recommend measures to maximize the utilization of fish stocks, consistent with their conservation, and aid the developing countries in promoting their fisheries and in training scientific and technical personnel for this purpose.
Duty To Comply with Conservation Regulations The fisheries commissions--the administrative agencies created by the fisheries conventions to implement their purposes--generally have only the power to recommend conservation regulations to the member nations. To become effective, the regulations generally must be approved unanimously.
The Convention on Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources of the High Seas attempts to overcome some of the difficulties that stem from this requirement of unanimity. It forces consideration of the need for conservation of a fish stock if insisted upon by (1) a nation participating in the fishery,
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(2) a nonparticipating coastal nation, or (3) under some circumstances, a noncoastal, nonparticipating nation. If agreement is not reached, the Convention authorizes any such nation to invoke the dispute settlement machinery it establishes. Meanwhile, the coastal nation to invoke the dispute settlement manondiscriminatory [sic - nondiscriminatory] conservation measures which govern foreign fishermen, subject to the same dispute settlement machinery. Decisions of the special commission created to settle the disputes are binding on the nations concerned.
The Convention provides the means to bolster all existing fishery conventions. Its procedures could be invoked to prevent depletion of certain fish stocks until a convention specifically dealing with these stocks is adopted. They also could be employed if a nation belonging to an existing convention refuses to accept a commission recommendation or if a nation which is not a member enters the convention area and disregards the existing conservation regulations. The coastal nation could then act unilaterally and probably could take effective action to enforce its conservation regulations.
Unfortunately, however, it is doubtful that the Convention on Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources of the High Seas has been accepted by a sufficient number of the important fishing nations of the world to have become part of international law. The combined catches of the countries adhering to the Convention amounted to only 14 per cent of the world catch in 1965, and the United States, the United Kingdom, and South Africa, the only major fishing nations in this group, accounted for more than two-thirds of this 14 per cent.
It is difficult to say, therefore, that a coastal nation would be clearly justified to invoke the Convention as the source of its authority to impose its conservation measures upon any nation which is not a party to the Convention. The refusal of any important fishing nation to cooperate in a multinational conservation effort, although it participates in the fishery affected by that effort, remains a threat to the conservation and economic objectives of international fisheries management.
For similar reasons, it is important that all nations interested in the fisheries of a particular area become parties to the applicable convention.
Administrative Organization and Budget
The fisheries commissions to which the United States belongs will spend approximately $3,313,000 in the Fiscal Year 1969. The United States will contribute $2,064,000 of this total, of which $1,029,400 will go to the work of the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission. In addition, the United States will spend about $2,700,000 in Fiscal 1969 on research of interest to commissions which do not have their own scientific staffs.
The Commission estimates that the total amount spent in Fiscal 1969 on fisheries by all international organizations, including those in the United Nations family and the fisheries commissions to which the United States is not a party, will equal no more than a small fraction of 1 per cent of the $10 billion which is the estimated value of the total catch from the world's fisheries in 1968.
The small budgets with which some of the fisheries commissions operate reflect the deliberate choice of their member nations to rely on their own fisheries research agencies and not to supply the commissions with full-time
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scientific, technical, and economic staffs to accomplish their objectives. While impressive scientific work has been accomplished in this manner, there is always the danger that scientific opinion may tend to serve or be suspected of serving, national interests on issues of great moment. An international staff may serve to enhance the acceptability of commission recommendations.
Equally serious, many nations belonging to fisheries conventions or to the regional fisheries councils of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization lack the necessary scientific personnel or the resources to employ them. They are unable, therefore, to do the research required to establish the scientific basis for the conservation work of the fisheries commission or council in question. Yet the commission or council may have no staff of its own to do the work.
Enforcement Most fisheries conventions leave it to each member nation to enforce the provisions of the convention and the commission regulations implementing them against its own nationals and vessels. Some go further and authorize officials of any member nation to board, search, and seize the vessel of any other member nation suspected of a violation, but the seized vessel and arrested crew must be turned over for trial and punishment to the nation to which they belong.
It is difficult to say whether these weak provisions have created serious enforcement problems. Once the nations adhering to a fisheries convention agree to adopt conservation measures of importance, it is to the advantage of each to comply. Nevertheless, stronger enforcement provisions might reduce mutual suspicions of noncompliance and nonenforcement which encourage fishermen of all nations to disregard conservation regulations whenever they think they can do so with impunity. Stronger provisions also will be required to enforce the recommended quota system.
Dispute Settlement The 1958 Geneva Conventions on the Law of the Sea were accompanied by an Optional Protocol authorizing any ratifying nation to bring before the International Court of Justice any dispute involving it and another nation also adhering to the Protocol, if the dispute arises out of the interpretation or application of any provision of any of the Conventions. The Optional Protocol excepts disputes subject to the arbitration machinery created by the Convention on Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources of the High Seas. The United States has signed but has not ratified the Optional Protocol.
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of disputes arising under fisheries conventions when that seems preferable to settlement by the International Court of Justice.
Adoption of this recommendation will enable the nations participating in fisheries conventions to choose that form of settlement machinery which fits the particular case.
The application of the techniques of agriculture and animal husbandry to the rearing of some types of aquatic animals and plants under controlled conditions has produced enormous per acre yields of protein (Table 4-1). Unlike the fisheries where the harvestable stock is finite, cultured species for all practical purposes are limited only by the acreage that can be farmed and by cost of production in the competitive market. For this reason, some observers conclude that aquatic culture of certain especially efficient and productive species can make a substantial contribution to the war on hunger.
The three-dimensional character of the marine environment permits several noncompeting stocks to be farmed at once. For example, mollusks, crustacea, and finfish can be cultured in the same area. One combination might be rafted oysters, bay scallops, lobsters, flatfish, and marine algae. Even without such combinations, the potential returns are large. If 1,000 square miles of tidelands between California and Alaska were diked for sea farms and were cultivated to produce 3,000 pounds of fish per acre per year, the harvest would be equivalent to 50 per cent of the total U.S. fish catch of 1967.
However, realizing the potential of aquaculture will require overcoming certain legal and institutional constraints as well as advancing scientific knowledge and developing technology to permit production at competitive costs.
Present Status of U.S. Aquaculture
Activity in the United States today is at a low level compared with aquaculture in other parts of the world, but it is showing signs of rapid growth. A variety of organisms is under some kind of cultivation.
It is estimated that aquacultural products in 1967 reached a wholesale level of $50 million, but the level is uncertain because of wide variations in the definition of aquaculture. Much of domestic aquaculture is in fresh water; both trout and catfish farming have been very successful. Cultivation of bait fish is a several million dollar business. Among the marine organisms, oyster cultivation has the largest dollar volume.
Research is in progress with a number of high-value species including pompano, salmon,
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redfish, abalone, New England lobsters, spiny lobsters, crabs, shrimp, oysters, bay scallops, and hard clams. Nevertheless, technological development of aquaculture has just begun in the United States. Research has revealed many areas of potential improvement including predator control, genetic control (to improve quality, growth rate, and adaptability of various species), and the possibility of using presently wasted sources of nutrients and heat to effect economical control of local culturing environments. One technique which shows potential for replenishing natural stocks of marine plants is to transplant heat-tolerant species to waters warmed from electrical power plants.
The Future of Aquaculture
Aquaculture has much the same relationship to a fishing economy that agriculture has to a hunting economy. Obviously, controlled production has many advantages over harvesting wild stocks. Planting, quality control, feeding, and harvesting can be suited to the needs of the organism with resulting high productivity. With a growing demand for seafood, an uncertain natural supply of some species to meet the demand, and the potential for vast improvements in aquaculture technology, prospects for profitable aquaculture are increasing rapidly.
Aquaculture can be a valuable supplement to natural harvesting, enabling aquaculturists to move stocks into the market at times when natural supplies are seasonally low or unavailable for other reasons. Further, aquaculture offers the possibility for species improvement by selective breeding to meet human tastes and marketing requirements.
Knowledge, however, is still incomplete. Considerable research and development will be necessary before aquaculture can be brought to a major place in the seafood economy. For the near future, it appears that emphasis
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emphasis will be on high value species for the quality market in the United States. However, as knowledge and technique improve, it should be possible to develop means for high volume production of lower valued species, suitable both for table use and for processing into new food forms in which protein content is the dominant element. Fish protein concentrate is only one of several possibilities.
To cultivate marine organisms, brackish or saline water is needed. This means that a major aquaculture program must have available estuarine and shore areas to a greater extent than is possible under most present State laws and regulations. States vary widely in their sea-bottom leasing or rental practices, and in many States exclusive use of water areas is not permitted. To many qualified observers, it is these legal and institutional problems which are the greatest barrier to a viable commercial aquaculture program in the United States today. When decisions are made on how the coastal zone is to be used, aquaculture must be given appropriate weight as a contributor to the economy.
The Commission recognizes the high potential for user conflict. Established interests, including commercial and sport fishing, recreation, conservation, and navigation, tend to regard aquaculture as an interloper that may interfere with traditional activities. Often the conflict is based more on emotion than on reason. The Commission has noted several cases in which aquacultural investment was thwarted on legal or political grounds, although the conflicts of use were minimal, and only an infinitesimal fraction of the available water area was involved. Aquaculture in the open ocean appears possible for the future and raises the problem of how exclusive commercial rights may be obtained. The Federal Government should examine the various considerations involved.
Research has shown that marine plants also contain useful fractions of many other chemicals, including vegetable oils, chelating agents, and vegetable proteins. It is highly probable that, as marine biological research continues, unanticipated uses of marine plant organisms will be found. Agencies funding such research should be alert to new possibilities and make every effort to ensure that results are communicated fully and quickly.
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The medical history of people bordering the seas is replete with evidence that products with pharmaceutical applications can be obtained from the plants and animals of the sea. However, the present use of these products is small compared with similar products obtained from land organisms. With some exceptions, most of the marine drugs are used in rather crude dosage forms by peoples of some developing nations, just as the majority of crude botanical and zoological drugs were used in this country more than 40 years ago.
Practically no research is presently being conducted by government or industry on marine bioactive substances as possible sources
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of new commercial pharmaceutical products.
Most active substances from the sea now under study may be divided into two broad classes:
Antibiotics from the marine world will become more important as the older drugs upon which medical practice has relied for the past 20 years become less effective against new generations of resistant germs.
Contemporary experimental marine biology has indicated that other pharmacologically active substances, categorized as toxins or poisons, also can be obtained from marine organisms. Study of poisonous marine organisms is required also to understand marine ecology, to protect against the illnesses caused by eating poison-laden fish foods, and to help develop new protein foods from the ocean.
A poison is merely an intense inhibitor or stimulator of critical biological processes. Diluted, a poison is highly useful and often a very effective therapeutic agent. Research among toxins for antitoxins has unearthed a host of fascinating pharmacological properties variously described as antiviral, antibiotic, anti-tumor, hemolytic, analgesic, psychopharmacological, cardioinhibitory, fungicidal, and growth inhibitory. Indications are that some marine toxins rank among the most toxic substances known. Chemicals isolated from certain toxic marine fishes are 200,000 times more powerful in blocking nervous activity than drugs currently used in laboratories for nerve and brain research. A substance extracted from the primitive hagfish has been used experimentally to slow down the heart during open-heart surgery making it easier to operate. Anti-tumor and anti-microbial agents are present in such common organisms as clams and oysters.
Attempts to find useful, active substances in the sea by searching folklore, studying biological activities of marine plants and animals, and studying or interviewing native witch doctors produce little and are costly. It costs even more to use traditional methods to screen natural products at random. Drug companies have many more research opportunities than they possibly can undertake because of limited manpower and capital. Yet there is a vast array of marine biochemical agents having potent biological activity, and many of them may be useful therapeutic agents.
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