SECOND ANNUAL SESSION
CORAL GABLES, FLORIDA
UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI
Gulf and Caribbean
SECOND ANNUAL SESSION
Edited by C. P. Idyll
CORAL GABLES, FLORIDA
Gulf And Caribbean Fisheries Institute
F. G. WALTON SMITH-(ex officio) Chairman
Director, Marine Laboratory, University of Miami
CLARENCE P. IDYLL-(ex officio) Executive Secretary
Marine Laboratory, University of Miami
MILTON C. JAMES-(ex officio) Assistant Director, U. S. Fish and Wildlife
RICHARD A. KAHN-Chief, Economic Section, Branch of Commercial Fisheries,
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
J. L. BAUGHMAN-Chief Marine Biologist, Texas Game, Fish and Oyster
BERT THOMAS-(ex officio) Chairman, Gulf States Marine Fisheries Com-
JOHN B. BINDLOSS-(ex officio) Chairman, Atlantic States Marine Fisheries
ADDITIONAL COPIES may be obtained from The Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries
Institute, The Marine Laboratory, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida
;for $2.00 Postpaid. (U. S. Currency or its equivalent)
WELCOMING ADDRESS . . . . . .. . 5
I. D. MacVickar
OPENING ADDRESS. . . . ... . . 6
F. G. Wa'ton Smith
OYSTER FISHERIES SESSION
RECENT RESEARCH ON THE FLORIDA OYSTER . . .. 8
Robert M. Ingle
THE TEXAS OYSTER SITUATION..... . . . 9
J. L. Baughman
STUDIES ON THE EDIBLE OYSTER OF PUERTO RICO . .. 12
N. T. Mattox
POTENTIALITIES OF THE GULF OYSTER INDUSTRY . . 14
LATENT OYSTER RESOURCES OF FLORIDA . . . 15
Paul S. Galtsoff
CARIBBEAN FISHERIES SESSION
AN OUTLINE FOR A TRINIDAD SHARK FISHERY . ... .17
THE COMMERCIAL AND GAME FISHING INDUSTRIES OF
BERMUDA . . . ........... .. 27
Louis S. Mowbray
REPETITION OF EGG-LAYING AND NUMBER OF EGGS OF THE
BERMUDA SPINY LOBSTER.. . . . . 30
Edwin P. Creaser
THE MARINE FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN . .. 31
Gerald V. Howard
GULF FISHERIES SESSION
NEW DEVELOPMENTS IN THE MENHADEN INDUSTRY 39
J. N. Gowanloch
OUTLINE OF A RESEARCH PROGRAM ON THE LIFE HISTORY
OF THE TROUT AND REDFISH . . . . .41
J. L. Baughman
THE FLORIDA MULLET RESEARCH PROGRAM .... ... .44
Clarence P. Idyll
GEAR STUDIES IN THE FLORIDA MULLET FISHERY . .. 47
John W. Sutton
THE FLORIDA SPONGE INDUSTRY . . . . .51
J. Q. Tierney and Charles E. Dawson
SOME CONSIDERATIONS CONCERNING THE FUTURE OF THE
SPONGE INDUSTRY . . . . . . . 55
SOME POSSIBILITIES FOR FISHERIES DEVELOPMENT IN THE
GULF OF MEXICO . . . .. . .. . 57
THE CARIBBEAN CRAWFISH INDUSTRY AND ITS SOUTH
AFRICAN COMPETITOR . . . . ... 60
R. A. Kahn
TRENDS IN FISH PRODUCTION AND MARKETING . . 72
D. Y. Aska
PACKAGING AND MARKETING AIRBORNE SEAFOODS . 75
Spencer A. Larsen
AN ECONOMIC SURVEY OF THE TEXAS FISHING INDUSTRY 82
A. W. Anderson
THE LEGISLATIVE SITUATION ON SPONGES . . .86
R. A. Kahn
THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC PROBLEMS OF THE FLORIDA
COMMERCIAL FISHERMAN .. . . ... .93
Arthur H. Todd
DEVELOPMENT OF THE GULF STATES MARINE FISHERIES
COMPACT . .. ... .. . ... 96
Bert E. Thomas
THE ATLANTIC STATES MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION AND
THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE NORTH-
WESTERN ATLANTIC . . . . .. .. 98
Wayne D. Heydecker
POTENTIAL PRODUCTS FROM GULF OR SARGASSUM WEED 102
Fred W. Davis
THE PLACE OF SYSTEMATICS IN COMMERCIAL FISHERIES
RESEARCH .. . . . . . 103
Luis Rene Rivas
THE EFFECTS OF UNDERWATER SEISMOGRAPHIC
EXPLORATION .... ........... . 105
J. N. Gowanloch
PRODUCTION OF RED TIDE IN THE LABORATORY . . 107
THE FISHERIES OF THE ANTILLES . . . .. . .110
FINAL SESSION SUMMARY OF PROCEEDINGS
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE PROTECTION AND RATIONAL
EXPLOITATION OF THE SEA TURTLES . . . .114
F. G. Walton Smith
POTENTIALITIES OF THE CARIBBEAN FISHERIES AND
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THEIR REALIZATION . . 116
Clarence P. Idyll, R. T. Whiteleather and Gerald V. Howard
POTENTIALITIES OF THE GULF OF MEXICO FISHERIES AND
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THEIR REALIZATION . .. 118
J. L. Baughman
POTENTIALITIES OF THE GULF OYSTER INDUSTRY AND
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THEIR REALIZATION .. 126
J. L. Baughman
ECONOMIC POTENTIALITIES OF THE GULF AND CARIBBEAN
FISHERIES AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ECONOMIC
INVESTIGATION TOWARDS THEIR REALIZATION . 128
Richard A. Kahn
A COORDINATED PROGRAM OF MARINE STUDIES FOR THE
GULF AND CARIBBEAN . . . . . .129
Lionel A. Walford
CLOSING ADDRESS . . .... . . . .130
F. G. Walton Smith
1947 POPULATION OF THE TERRITORIES IN THE GULF AND
CARIBBEAN AREA . . . . . . . 131
COOPERATING AND PARTICIPATING ORGANIZATIONS 132
Chairman-MALCOLM Ross, Editor, University of Miami Publica-
tions, Coral Gables, Florida.
Welcoming Address By I. D. MacVicar
Mr. Hugh Peters, our chairman, has been prevented from attending the
opening of this conference by other county business that could not be postponed.
He has asked me to express his regrets and to extend to you, on behalf of the
people of Dade County, a cordial and hearty welcome.
It is a great pleasure to welcome to Dade County the Second Annual Session
of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute. We congratulate the Marine
Laboratory of the University of Miami for presenting the Inaugural Sessions
here in August of last year. At that time the future of the Institute depended, in
large measure, upon the interest taken in that first program. A gratifying result
is the fine attendance at this, the Second Session.
The first Institute brought together representatives of the sports fishermen,
commercial fishermen, fishery biologists, technologists, economists and conserva-
tion officials. That Inaugural Session truly embraced the Gulf and Caribbean
Fisheries, as almost every county and state bordering on these waters was repre-
sented. Our own Federal government sent top-level scientists and administrators.
The success of the Institute was thus assured from the outset by such participa-
One of your speakers last year stated that salt-water sports fishing alone was
valued at $625,000,000.00 in 1947, and the entire industry at almost one billion
dollars. That is no fish story, gentlemen, but a statement of fact-a statement
that emphasizes the importance of the fishing industry to the economy of all
Those of us who have lived in Florida for many years are fully conscious of
the almost irreparable damage that has been done to our marine life by some
irresponsible developers and promoters. Perhaps we can never reclaim the
beauty and plenty of the old days, but if there is one chance left, it will rest in
capable hands such as yours. Our governing bodies will do well to heed your
counsel and welcome your recommendations. Therein lies the only hope of
preserving and protecting marine resources that mean so much to all of us.
In that connection, I should like to report that a Dade County Aquarium and
Marine Laboratory on Virginia Key is not by any means a dead issue. It is true
our first financing plan was not successful, as the private interests withdrew
after forfeiting $50,000.00 to the County. This money has been deposited in a
special aquarium fund, and the Board of County Commissioners is now working
on a plan that we have every reason to believe will be successful. Under this
plan the County will own and operate the Aquarium instead of leasing to private
interests. It is our intention to construct a Marine Laboratory for the University
of Miami, at no cost to the University, and it is our hope that the staff of the
Marine Laboratory will, in turn, help us with the technical operation of the
Aquarium. We have given top priority to this project and hope that by the
time you hold your next annual meeting, construction will be well under way.
I trust your meeting here will be the success it deserves to be, and that your
stay in Dade County will be such a pleasant one that you will return again and
again to our shores.
F. G. WALTON SMITH, Chairman
MENTION WAS MADE at last year's meeting of the failure of mankind to maintain
food production ahead of population increase. This is not a problem for the
future. The race is already lost to the extent that over 20 million persons are
reliably estimated as dying each year from the direct or indirect results of
No apology is made for introducing this year's meeting with the same theme.
Since last year the population of the United States alone has increased by some-
thing in the order of 1,000,000, and the world population by at least twenty
times this figure. The problem becomes more serious with each passing year.
Although in the United States we are ahead in the population-food race, the
margin is decreasing. In the Caribbean area the crisis is closer and has become
a major economic problem already, inasmuch as the area is not self-supporting.
The British West Indies alone import from Canada the equivalent of about
100 million pounds of fish, and the population is still increasing.
These problems concern all of us present at this meeting. With the drive to
produce more and more food it becomes increasingly important for the fishing
industries to extend their sources of supply and to conserve and stabilize existing
sources, by wise regulation.
The function of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute is to aid in the
expansion and conservation of fisheries in the area by bringing together those
to whom it is of primary concern. We welcome not merely scientists, but
representatives of government administrations, economists, fish dealers and the
fishermen themselves. These various groups will, during the next few days,
discuss their own special problems, and in addition, will attempt to unify efforts
by exchanging ideas and information with other groups in general session.
The problems with which we are concerned include the basic facts of the
biology of fishes and the basic oceanography which determines their distribution.
We are also concerned with the need for exploratory development of the
fisheries, with the problems of transportation, distribution and marketing and
with the economic conditions of the fishermen. We welcome the speakers in
these various fields who represent the governments of neighboring states and the
countries of the Caribbean and we welcome those from scientific organizations
and representatives of the industry who will discuss problems from their re-
Many problems in this area have more than local significance and, as a
result, we are privileged to have as participants experienced men from other
parts of the United States. To all of these we extend a hearty welcome.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has contributed in great measure to the
program in front of us. The success of our deliberations will also reflect the
close cooperation of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and the
newly organized Gulf State Marine Fisheries Commission. Part of the program
is based upon suggestions made by the Caribbean Commission. In short, we
have the most auspicious conditions for our purposes and we may regard the
Institute in this respect as a catalyzer.
This viewpoint is perhaps particularly important today. A considerable
amount of individual uncoordinated research has been carried out in the past,
in the area with which we are concerned. Perhaps we may now aid each other
by assessing these scattered efforts and preparing ourselves for a reorientation
of future work in the direction of cooperative and integrated research and
development. The program is arranged so that the conclusions reached in each
session will be specifically reported and so that definite recommendations may
arise from the joint efforts of us all. It may not be too much to hope that, during
the next week, the foundations may be laid for a New Deal in the fisheries work
of the Gulf and Caribbean.
Chairman-J. L. BAUGHMAN, Chief Marine Biologist,
Texas Game, Fish and Oyster Commission, Rockport, Texas.
Recent Research On The Florida Oyster
ROBERT M. INGLE, Assistant Director, Oyster Division,
Florida State Board of Conservation.
THE APPROPRIATION made by the 1947 legislature establishing the Division of
Oyster Culture carried the stipulation that all funds were to be used for "Re-
habilitation of the natural oyster beds of the State." Accordingly, research has
been limited to facts relating to the basic biology of the Florida oyster, such as
intensity and place of spawning, length of spawning period, growth rate, salinity
optimums, etc. This information is combined with knowledge of glycogen con-
tent of oysters from selected spots in the State to select the most desirable loca-
tions for rehabilitation work.
A general survey of the west coast has been made and several localities seem
promising. Besides Apalachicola Bay, favorable areas noted were Milton, Pana-
ma City, Spring Creek, Panacea, St. Marks, Horseshoe, Cedar Key and Crystal
River. Further efforts will be brought to bear to revive the industry in these
A steady supply of fresh water seems to be the critical factor in most areas of
the west coast. Every effort should be made to find localities such as Indian
River on the east coast which can depend upon a year-round, unfailing source
of fresh water which will not be too much at one period of the year and too
little at another.
Fluctuation of salinity has been found to be harmful on a short time basis, as
well as seasonally. A variation of 8 to 10 parts per thousand within 10 or 12
hours or less, such as might be found due to tidal action, seems to retard growth
and have a deleterious effect upon the quality of the meats. Much experimental
evidence is accumulating that the best oysters in Florida grow in areas where
the salinity does not vary more than 5 parts per thousand, from day to day,
with a 1 2 part variation being ideal.
Another critical item in Florida's oyster culture is the purity of water. Many
areas of the state that previously were leading producers are now producing
little or nothing because of pollution. The pollution is of two types, sewage and
industrial. Studies have been begun to ascertain which times of the year sewage
pollution is absent. It is well known that when the salinity of water is raised,
enteric organisms tend to decrease. By fishing only during such periods in
polluted areas it may be possible to harvest many thousands of barrels of oysters
that are now permanently condemned. This plan has been used in Apalachicola
Bay with marked success.
The other aspects of the pollution problems are to be studied in the immediate
future. In the meantime every encouragement is being given to municipalities to
establish adequate sewage treatment facilities.
Factors favoring an increased oyster production in Florida are several. An
extremely heavy spat fall was noted in all areas harboring oysters and a reliable
source of seed is therefore almost assured. Growth is especially rapid. It. was
found that cultch planted in the spring would produce marketable sized oysters
by the latter part of the ensuing oyster season. By comparison, northern oysters
would require three to four years to attain a similar size. The growth is also
continuous throughout the year, whereas in northern waters the growing season
extends only through the warmer season.
An exceptionally long spawning has been found to exist. In Apalachicola Bay
spat falls from the first of April to the first week of November. Studies further
south indicate an even longer period of spawning.
Dr. Pierce, who collected plankton samples at Cedar Key, Bradenton, and
Fort Myers monthly for a period of a year, very generously made his collection
available to the author. Cedar Key plankton only has been studied to date.
Oyster larvae were found for all months but three: January, February, and
March. The samples from Bradenton and Fort Myers, which have not yet been
examined, should prove interesting.
The usual oyster parasites and commensals have been found to be of excep-
tionally low incidence in Florida. Nematopsis infestation is light, as is Polydora.
Boring sponges are present in large quantities in very few localities, none of
which are of great potential value to the industry. Boring clams are not abun-
dant in the principal areas of production. A great variety of predatious gastro-
pods do exist, however, and the author has found strong evidence that Melon-
gena corona, and Busycon perversum, as well as the already incriminated Thais
haemastoma annually ravage the oyster beds of the State. Studies should be
made on these with, the aim of control. Exploration should be made into the
possibility of using, .these snails as bait, fertilizer, or other commercial products.
In summing up, anr optimistic conclusion is difficult to avoid. The potentialities
for Florida oyster culture are great. The waters of the Peninsular State confer
potent advantages to oysters which eventually can lead only to greatly increased
production if exploited.
The Texas Oyster Situation
J. L. BAUGHMAN, Chief Marine Biologist,
Texas Game, Fish and Oyster Commission.
TEXAS OYSTER REEFS are, in general, characterized by their extreme depletion or
entire absence. Oyster production dropped (in 1948-49) to an all time low of
12,951 gallons, or about 7000 pounds. The 1949-50 season will probably be
at least as bad or worse. This drop has been due to a number of things, includ-
In a recent survey of the area made by Dr. Philip Butler of the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, and Mr. Byron B. Baker, Jr., of the Texas Game, Fish and
Oyster Commission, the condition of the reefs was summarized by Dr. Butler
"Oyster reefs of the entire area were characterized by their serious depletion
resulting from either over-fishing, drill predation, or both. With few exceptions,
the oyster meats were of only fair to very poor quality. The high incidence of
boring sponge and boring clam are probably the primary agents in causing this
poor quality as (a) oysters living in marsh ponds cut off from infection with
sponges and clams were of excellent quality even though salinity levels were
as high or higher than on adjacent reefs in open water and (b) oysters exposed
at low tides, which automatically controls sponges, were of better quality than
adjacent oysters which were heavily fouled with sponges.
"There were indications that oysters growing in deeper waters were better
than those on shallow reefs. Oysters of satisfactory quality were found primarily
in areas having salinity levels below 20 ppm, such as stations 67, 57, and 28;
these reefs are located near the junctions of primary and secondary bays; while
fouling and predators are partially controlled at these levels, there is the possi-
bility of mortality due to excessive run-off of fresh water in some years.
"The absence of feeding at many locations indicates that the plankton may
be low quantitatively and that poor oyster quality may be due to a small food
supply, which may be of importance in determining the density of seed
"The topography of the bottom, consisting of elevated ridges and towheads
surrounded by soft mud, suggests caution in attempting to expand reefs so that
natural siltation areas will be avoided.
"Areas infested with drills are those having greatest access to waters of the
Gulf, and the drill population will probably fluctuate regularly with the run-off
from the several rivers.
"In areas where commercial harvesting was observed, the rate of spatfall was
insufficient to maintain the reefs. The presence of spat of less than " diameter
at many stations suggests that there is an important winter spatfall, or else that
in these locations, the spat are extremely slow growing. These two possibilities
should be investigated since other locations showed that there was a single
important spatfall some months before this survey."
So much for the physical and biological aspects of the question.
There is another, and less frequently recognized, side to the matter. This
is the fact that the laws of Texas, well intentioned though they are, do little
to encourage the culture of oysters so badly needed to replenish our reefs. It
would be bootless to discuss these laws at any length here. Suffice it to say that
the following legislative changes are suggested, although further knowledge may
lead to their modification.
All oyster reefs in the public waters of the State of Texas, except those set
aside as seed beds, or as public reserves, shall be open to lease for oyster culture,
and may be held for an indefinite period, subject to the following provisions:
1. Leases shall be acquired only by bidding (either sealed bids or at auction)
as the state may direct, in substantially the same manner as oil leases are now
made on state land.
2. The original bid shall serve as rental for five years.
3. After five years have elapsed, a rental of $2 per acre per year shall be
paid by the lessor.
4. It may be desirable to require a royalty on any oysters produced from
such a lease.
5. Any lease from which no oysters are produced in five year period should
revert to the state, even though the lessor is willing to continue to pay the rent.
The object of this is to encourage oyster culture, not the idle possession of land
or bottom for other purposes.
6. Such leases to be transferable so long as the bottom is to be used for
7. The position of our present oyster law limiting the holdings of any person,
persons, firm, company, or corporation should be modified to this extent. When
any of the individuals mentioned above can show that he has his original 100
acres under valid cultivation, then he may, at the discretion of the Commission,
be granted such additional acreage as he may need to expand his legitimate
8. Any man taking oysters from the waters of the state, either from his own
lease or elsewhere, shall return to the water 25 per cent of the shell remaining
after shucking operations. He may place this on his own lease, under State super-
vision, to improve it, or should he decide that such shell would damage rather
than improve his lease, then he shall return such shell to the water wherever
directed by the Game, Fish and Oyster Commission.
9. A valid corollary of the above would then be the closure by regulation of
all reefs not under lease. This would not remove such public reefs from avail-
ability for lease, but would insure that only those reefs leased, and in which
an individual owner had sufficient interest to conserve them, would be worked.
Every inducement should be given to the man wishing to work his lease, which
should be easy to get, and promiscuous oystering on the public reefs should be
discouraged. This would give the wild stock a chance to recuperate, and, if it
was desirable, such reefs could be opened from time to time for public fishing.
In view of the findings of Dr. Butler and Mr. Baker, summarized above, the
following program has been outlined, for immediate attention on the part of the
1. Experimental plantings should be continued to determine the optimum
locations for oyster culture with respect to environmental conditions. Under this
heading would come (a) Establishment of oyster beds at Bird Point, in deep
water on the west side of Aransas Bay, and others in an area of significantly
lower salinity such as San Antonio Bay. (b) Maintenance of small experimental
plantings at previous experimental plots to determine changes in environment.
2. Spatfall and spat survival rates should be determined, using test cultch,
and these should be correlated with plankton analyses and hydrography. Stations
should be established in areas of high and low salinities and on experimental
as well as commercially productive reefs.
3. Mudshell and the "fines" resulting from shell dredging operations should
be tested to determine their fitness for stiffening various types of bottoms. Initial
tests should be made on Long Reef and on a new area near the laboratory.
4. Routine collection of data on hydrography and plankton should continue
for correlation with oyster quality and productivity, and a permanent station
should be established near the laboratory where comparable data may be col-
lected over a period of years.
Besides the legislative changes and biological objectives outlined above, there
is need for an extended program of long range research, covering the following
1. Further study is necessary of the environmental features which will deter-
mine areas suitable for the cultivation of marketable oysters, together with
investigation of the costs and methods for improving and expanding natural
reefs as well as for establishing new reefs in suitable areas. Detailed information
on the following points will be required to reach a satisfactory conclusion:
(a) Spatfall and survival. (f) Fouling organisms.
(b) Growth. (g) Oyster quality.
(c) Mortality. (h) Salinity.
(d) Feeding and fattening. (i) Temperature.
(e) Predators (j) Turbidity.
(k) pH. (o) Bottom strengthening methods.
(1) Currents. (p) Plankton analyses.
(m) Nutrient salts. (q) Population analyses.
(n) Bottom quality.
2. It will be necessary to properly evaluate existing and potential oyster
resources. Surveys should be made of the size and location of existing reefs
with analyses of their oyster population.
3. Factors affecting oyster culture should be studied where localized problems
in pollution may occur. It is also necessary to gain understanding of the prob-
lems imposed by domestic and industrial pollution; and a survey is needed to
determine the extent and effect of these factors on the oyster population.
4. Investigation of the fundamental aspects of oyster biology and the devising
of experimental techniques to verify or evaluate field observations are necessary
parts of this investigation.
5. Dissemination of scientific data so collected should be made available
to the public and to legislative bodies for their information in enacting conserva-
tion laws relating to the oysters.
The author is deeply indebted to Dr. Philip Butler of the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service for much of the biological data used in the preparation of this
Studies On The Edible Oyster Of Puerto Rico
N. T. MATTOX, Professor of Zoology
College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts
Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
FROM NOVEMBER, 1946, hydrographic records of the environment and biologi-
cal studies of Ostrea rhizophorae Guilding, the common edible oyster of Puerto
Rico, have been carried out. This oyster is found attached to the aerial roots of
the common mangrove, Rhizophora mangle L., in various lagoons around
Puerto Rico. This habit of growth has given the name "mangrove oyster" to this
species. These studies have been conducted in the Boqueron Lagoon, on the
south west coast of Puerto Rico, where one of the largest colonies exist. This
lagoon is approximately 1 V2 miles long by V1 mile wide and is entirely sur-
rounded by mangroves bearing oysters.
This colony of oysters is of considerable economic importance to the fisher-
men of Boqueron. It is estimated that from 2,000 to 10,000 oysters are taken
from this lagoon each week throughout the entire year. Based on average
samples of marketed oysters, at least 25,000 pounds of oysters are taken from
this one lagoon during the period of a year. These oysters are sold only in local
markets and are considered by many to have a flavor superior to that of O.
virginica. Problems of controlled harvesting of these oysters have been con-
sidered. Because of the continuous harvesting practices the marketed oysters are
not of a large size. The average marketed oyster is little over 55 mm. in shell
length. The largest specimen observed in this lagoon had a shell length of 96
mm. It is probable that larger oysters could be obtained by regulating the
"picking" of the oysters in different parts of the lagoon.
Hydrographic observations indicate that this species lives under environmental
conditions different from those of 0. virginica. The salinity of the waters is
much higher, averaging about 35 parts per thousand. Extremes of high salinity,
K K f
pH SAULNITY'r /
- w a 1
Au -- -11--.,
- 4. + I + I .
vZs I. R
25 __ _ _ -_ --_
I. . . 1 1+i i- 1 1 1 E
.14 1 1 _1
I I A I I I
after extended dry periods, up to 44 parts per thousand have been recorded.
Also, after very unusual heavy rains during the fall of 1949 when the flow of
fresh water from a nearby fresh water lagoon was abundant, a salinity average
of 16.8 parts per thousand was observed. However, nine days later the salinity
was up to 28.9 parts per thousand, and up to 34.4 parts per thousand the fol-
The water temperature here is uniformly high. The extremes observed were
from 25.00 to 31.0C. Oxygen content of the water varied, inversely with the
temperature, from 7.0 per cent to 3.7 per cent. The pH of the water varied from
7.4 to 8.2 (Figure 1.).
Studies on the rate of growth of adults and spat were made. Individuals
attached to mangrove roots and to artificially furnished cultch were studied. The
mature individuals grow at a rate of 0.12 mm. per day, and spat grow 0.25
mm. per day.
This species is dioecious with an observed sex ratio of approximately 5 females
to 4 males. They are sexually active throughout the entire year; setting of spats
has been observed during all seasons.
Reference is made to a detailed study by the present writer, "Studies on the
biology of the edible oyster, Ostrea rhizophorae Guilding, in Puerto Rico." Ecol.
Monog. 19:339-356, 1949.
Potentialities Of The Gulf Oyster Industry
LEWIS RADCLIFFE, Director, The Oyster Institute of North America
THOSE FAMILIAR with conditions in the Gulf states oyster industry will admit
that there is room for a vast increase in production. It is not necessary to look
further for one of the prime causes of this condition than to note the small
percentage of grounds under lease. A recent survey made by the author revealed
that there were only 25,000 acres under lease, as compared with an estimated
916,000 acres of natural oyster grounds not under lease. In other words, less
than three per cent of the total acreage is being cultivated. It is only necessary to
recall that of the oyster production in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecti-
cut, New York and New Jersey, about 98 per cent of the annual harvest comes
from cultivated grounds, to appreciate the value of oyster cultivation in main-
taining the industry at high productive levels. From the experiences in Maryland
and other states it must be concluded also that the amount of money required
to maintain production on public grounds is far too great to be achieved by
subsidies or direct taxes. If these statements be admitted as facts, then the solu-
tion to the problem of creating a flourishing oyster industry is through the enlist-
ment of private capital in the leasing and cultivation of oyster bottoms. If this
be true, then state governmental agencies should take necessary steps to encour-
age the leasing of grounds for private cultivation on a sufficiently large scale,
and without encumbering provisions, to make it really worth while for private
capital to enter this field. Furthermore, as a result of the extensive researches
sponsored by the oil interests, state and federal laboratories engaged in studies
of the problems of the oyster industry, there is being accumulated a tremendous
backlog of valuable information, far greater than any other area within the
realm of oyster production. When this can be released to the public it should
prove to be of inestimable value in the development of increased production of
Now that there is a Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission it is hoped that
the Commission will make one of its major objectives the fostering and develop-
ment of the oyster industry of the Gulf. There is no objective with greater
promise of increasing the productive wealth of the Gulf coastlines. If it has not
already established a section devoted to the problems of the oyster industry, to
furthering its development, it is to be hoped that this may become an established
fact shortly. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has already
demonstrated great capabilities in coordinating the efforts and furthering devel-
opments in other comparable fields.
The future development of the oyster industry is not so much dependent on
an increase of our scientific knowledge of what to do as it is upon political
consideration and practical application of knowledge now available.
Latent Oyster Resources Of Florida
PAUL S. GALTSOFF
U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service
ACCORDING TO THE STATISTICAL DATA for 1945, Florida contributes annually to
the national supply of sea food only 1.6 million pounds of oyster meat, or less
than 2 per cent of the average annual production of oysters in the United States.
About 93 per cent of this quantity are produced by public oyster grounds and
only 7 per cent are harvested from privately leased bottoms. The west coast
of Florida contributes the greatest part, namely about 1.5 million pounds and is
therefore much more significant than the east coast, which produces only 0.7
In relation to the very long coastal line of the State the total harvest of oysters
is very small. Furthermore, the yield of oyster meat is very low. One standard
bushel of Florida oysters averages only 3 pounds of meat as compared with 7
or 8 pounds obtainable from a bushel of oysters in Long Island Sound and in
Delaware Bay. The low figure of yield is an index of a poor quality of oyster
meats, which is typical for the wild oysters usually found on public grounds.
Fifty or more years ago the Florida coast abounded in oysters, the quality of
which, especially of those from Apalachicola Bay and adjacent waters, com-
pared favorably with the best oysters produced in the country. Thus, the present
situation cannot be entirely attributed to unfavorable natural conditions. It is
reasonable to conclude that the decline in the productivity of bottoms and poor
yield of oyster meat are the results of the lack of management of public oyster
grounds and of the inability of private oyster growers to engage in the cultiva-
tion or oyster farming in State waters.
According to the detailed survey made in 1897 by Lt. F. Swift, U.S.N., there
were 12,214 acres of grounds suitable for oyster culture in St. Vincent Sound,
Apalachicola and St. George Sound. Although since that time some of these
grounds have been destroyed, recent observations indicate that about 7000
acres of bottom may still be suitable for oyster culture. If properly attended,
this area alone should produce annually 700,000 bushels of oysters, or at
least 2,100,000 pounds of oyster meat. There are other areas, namely near
Cedar Keys, in Tampa Bay, in Ft. Myers region, near Fernandina and in Indian
River which may be developed as productive oyster bottoms.
Among the obstacles impeding the development of oyster industry in Florida,
the most serious ones are an inadequate supply of shells for cultch and of seed
oysters for replanting, the destruction of oysters by drills and conchs, and the
increasing domestic and industrial pollution of coastal waters. The man-made
difficulties can be overcome by better management of oyster resources and by
taking advantage of the favorable natural conditions which encourage prolific
propagation of oysters and their rapid growth.
No success in the rehabilitation of oyster grounds may be expected, however,
until the problem of controlling drills and conchs is solved and the pollution of
water is checked. At present the predatory marine snails destroy the seed oysters
so rapidly that the young generation of oysters is wiped out before it reaches
maturity and has a chance to spawn. In the list of shellfisheries research pro-
jects the control of snails in Florida waters must be given the highest priority.
Second in importance is the problem of combating and preventing the growing
pollution of coastal waters.
Rehabilitation of oyster grounds is expensive, the cost varying at present from
100 to 150 dollars per acre. These expenses may be materially decreased by
mechanization of harvesting and by establishing seed oyster resources near the
growing or maturing grounds. Even with the most efficient methods of harvest-
ing and having at its service best shellfish experts, the State of Florida, with the
funds available at present for this purpose, can rehabilitate only a small part of
depleted oyster grounds. It appears, therefore, advisable to encourage private
oyster farming and invite the industry to invest the capital in the rehabilitation
of oyster resources. The process can be expedited by establishing State seed
oyster grounds from which seed oysters may be supplied at cost to private
planters and by organizing experimental or demonstration oyster farms for
further study of the best methods of oyster culture in Florida. Oyster resources
of the State, now deteriorating because of neglect and lack of management,
may be developed through cultivation carried out jointly by the State and private
Chairman-CLARENCE P. IDYLL, Research Associate,
Marine Laboratory, University of Miami
Coral Gables, Florida
An Outline For A Trinidad Shark Fishery
Shark Industries Division of the Borden Company, Stuart, Florida
BY PERMISSION OF THE GOVERMENT of Trinidad and Tobago the eighty foot
motor vessel "SACHEM," owned and operated by Shark Industries Division of
the Borden Company of Stuart, Florida, fished for sharks in the vicinity of
Trinidad under the direction of Captain Charles Anderson for 30 days in April
and May, 1949. Two sets were made within adjacent territorial waters of Vene-
zuela by special permission through its consul at Port-of-Spain. Sets were made
in the Gulf of Paria and on the north, east, and south coasts of Trinidad in
depths from five to seventy-five fathoms. Each set of approximately 400 baited
two and a half inch shark hooks was made with a ground line of three-eighths
inch cable, about 20,000 feet long.
The catch of 750 sharks with an estimated total weight of 90 to 110 tons is
not indicative of great concentration of sharks in the area. Whiteleather and
Brown1 call attention to a generally reported lower productivity of tropical
waters as compared to that of higher latitudes. Sharks in the vicinity of Trinidad
were found more evenly and generally distributed than in similar northern
waters. Because of the apparent absence of large schools, or concentrations in
limited areas, no single day's catch was very large, but the fishing results of the
"SACHEM" are probably not indicative of the total shark population of the
Eighteen species were represented in the catch, and in addition to these, six
more species are included in this report on the basis of specimens seen later, or
on records in recent publications. The large number of species is unusual in so
small an area, and since the range in commercial value of the various species
is great, the identification of forms is important in development of shark fishery
practice. This report is an attempt to provide a practical outline of the identifi-
cation of species with specific suggestions for handling and utilization.
(II) SHARK PRODUCTS IN COMMERCE
Previous fishery surveys of Trinidad and Tobago and adjacent areas have
carried the suggestion that a successful shark fishery might be developed if the
catch in its entirety could be favorably marketed. Such a recommendation is
indubitably sound and could well be extended to other fishery activities in the
1. Whiteleather, Richard T., and Brown, Herbert H., An Experimental Fishery Survey in
Trinidad, Tobago, and British Guiana. Anglo-American Caribbean Commission. Wash-
ington, 1945: pp. 1-130.
tropics. A persistent fishery problem in any latitude is the elimination of waste;
that is, waste through overfishing and exploitation of a natural resource because
the value of one part of the product of fishing activity is very high, and waste
because a very low market value requires the discard of other products of
fishing. The liver, or rather the vitamin A in the liver, is the most valuable pro-
duct of the world shark fishery, and it would be for any shark fishing operation
in Trinidad and Tobago, at least under existing market conditions. The future
market value of vitamin A is uncertain, not because of a probable drop in
demand but because of recent success in the preparation of synthetic vitamin
A. However, the effect of this is not necessarily a serious threat to the develop-
ment of a successful shark fishing operation in Trinidad and Tobago.
A characteristic of the catch of the "SACHEM" was that the livers taken had
a very wide range of vitamin A potency. Not only were there apparent differ-
ences in the potency range among the various species but within lots of liver
segregated by species and sex. Single livers from adult sharks taken by the
"SACHEM" ranged in potency from less than 500 international units to the
gram of liver to more than 50,000 i.u./g liver. This condition is similar to that
reported by Springer and French2 for South Florida. Under such circumstances
no valid conclusions concerning average liver values can be drawn. Further-
more, the catch of the "SACHEM" was made during a period of little more
than a month and the effect of seasonal cycle on vitamin potency can be con-
siderable. Oil from shark livers taken in the warm waters about Trinidad has a
high stearine content and consequently is semi-solid at temperatures below 60
degrees Fahrenheit. This does not affect the usefulness of the vitamin A in it,
but additional information is needed to determine the relative marketable quality
of oils characteristic of the various kinds of Trinidad sharks.
Several of the larger species provide hides that have substantial value. During
the rainy season there may be enough fresh water pushed into the Gulf of Paria
to affect adversely the quality of shark hides taken there, but otherwise the
quality should be good. Usually the presence of fresh water-damaged hides in
a shipment is first detected after preliminary treatment at the tannery and may
result in serious loss to the shipper. To avoid this, it is a good practice to check
all hides carefully before preparation, especially those from brackish water over
mud bottom. If there is a tendency for the denticles (scale-like surface covering
of the hide) to slip, the hide should be discarded, or the shark should not be
skinned. This slipping or looseness of the denticles is analagous to slipping in
furs and indicates a spoiled spot in the hide that may render the entire hide
worthless after tanning.
Although there is, at present, a greater demand in Trinidad for fresh shark
meat for human consumption than is afforded by the irregular production inci-
dental to other fishing activity, it is probable that even a small specialized shark
fishery would more than satisfy it. However, distribution of fresh shark meat is
restricted to the larger markets and it is recommended that an immediate
objective of any Trinidad shark fishery operation be the introduction of a
properly prepared, dried, salt product.
The dried fins of the larger sharks are in sufficient demand to find a ready
export market, particularly since those available from Trinidad could be of
better than average size and quality. It is important that fins be taken in com-
plete sets, and for species having valuable fins it is important to include the
lower tail fin.
2. Springer, Stewart and French, Price M., Vitamin A in Shark Liver Oil. Industrial and
Engineering Chemistry: 36, 1944, p. 190.
Even with the utilization of the hides, fins, liver and meat, a considerable
amount of any shark catch remains. The fins of some species, the meat of
others, and the hides of small sharks are not marketable. Nearly half the weight
remains after the removal of livers, fins, hides and marketable meat in most
species. This residue can be made into shark meal having a protein value as
high as 80 per cent. Shark meal has been shown to be satisfactory for the pro-
tein requirement of stock feed, and the supply available in Florida finds a ready
market on a protein basis in competition with other sources.
There are special difficulties in grinding and drying shark waste for meal. The
equipment used in the preparation of fish meal does not in all cases handle
shark in a satisfactory way. There are important reasons for an attempt to find
a solution to the problem of preparation of shark meal in Trinidad. The idea
that shark carcasses and shark wastes spoil fishing when dumped on the fishing
grounds over a long period of time is prevalent among fishermen. The problem
of disposal of waste by a shore station is a serious one and can become a major
operating expense. But perhaps the best reason for the preparation of shark
meal in Trinidad is that the requirements for protein ingredients of stock feed
now have to be met by importation and locally produced shark meal would
go far to meet this demand. It is recommended that any program for a shark
fishery in Trinidad include the examination of the possibilities for the prepara-
tion of shark meal using equipment adaptable to drying other available produc-
tion wastes which can be used in animal feed.
(III) SHARK PRODUCTION IN TRINIDAD
Direct transfer of fully equipped fishing boats successful in other latitudes
is not the only method for improving the productivity of Trinidad and Tobago
marine fisheries. Increased production should follow persistent effort directed
toward the correction of several conditions that now impede the progress of the
fishery. One of the important bars to better production is the large degree of
standardization in methods, gear, and boats. Along with this condition there is
little boldness in the use of boats, in the risk of gear, or in trial of the unfamil-
iar. Improvement of production is to be sought by trial and error in the adapta-
tion of knowledge about fishing and seamanship to particular local conditions.
This implies instruction to fishermen but it is important that the instructor be a
practical student of local fishing conditions and that the object of increasing
today's production be constantly in view.
In long range, the progress of the Trinidad and Tobago fishery is held back
by the standardization of small boat building to one type, by inadequate repair
facilities for fishing boats of intermediate size, and by lack of protected moor-
ings for boats too large to beach.
For the development of a shark fishery in Trinidad it is doubtful that a
method such as that of the "SACHEM" is a proper aim, because the use of
offshore equipment precludes the utilization of any by-products. A shark fishery
similar to that of Cuba, in the employment of small rigs and wide usage of
production, appears to be more adaptable to local conditions.
There is now in Trinidad an especially favorable marketing condition for
shark products, and the problem of initiating production does not appear too
formidable. A shark fishery offers unusual benefits to Trinidad because it would
furnish an exportable surplus of vitamin A bearing liver, of fins, and of raw
hides, because it could be made to meet urgent needs for low cost protein for
human consumption and for animal feeds, and because its principal costs are for
labor rather than materials. On the other hand, it requires in its development a
large amount of persistent and determined effort.
It is recommended that buoyed handlines, short setlines, and light weight,
small set-nets be used for catching sharks. Somewhat larger boats than at present
available to the average Trinidad fisherman would be desirable to get production
at some distance from base, but determined men can make substantial catches
close to the long coastlines of Trinidad and Tobago with boats now in use for
fishing. It is probable that shark fishing close in shore would be more successful
during the night.
(IV) SHARKS OF TRINIDAD
In the late spring the "SACHEM" fishing showed the bull shark to be the
most valuable of the Trinidad species. At this time also the small black-tip, the
great hammerhead, the South American hammerhead, and the market shark
were present in the Gulf of Paria and would be the most valuable species to
Trinidad fishery. It is probable that some of the other species would be found
to be of relatively greater importance at other times of the year.
1. SAND-TIGER. Carcharias taurus Rafinesque.
This shark was not taken but is included because it has been taken both
north and south of the latitude of Trinidad. It is a large (adults are 8 to 10
feet long), ugly shark and may be distinguished from other sharks of the
region by the teeth, which are long, slender, and sinuous and have small
hooks or toothlets at the bases of the larger ones. The hides and fins are
worthless and in known examples the liver potency is very low.
2. MAKO. Isurus oxyrinchus Rafinesque.
This is an offshore species not taken by the "SACHEM" but included here
because of a previous report of its capture off the coast of British Guiana.
It may be easily distinguished from other Trinidad sharks because it has in
combination, lateral keels or ridges at the base of the tail, a sharp pointed
snout, long sinuous awl-like teeth without serration and without hooklets
on their bases. The hides and fins have no value. The value of the liver oil
is unknown. The meat of this species in other localities is considered very
3. NURSE SHARK. Ginglymostoma cirratum (Bonnaterre).
The nurse shark is radically different from other sharks, the smooth tan
hide (not sandpaper-like to the touch as in other sharks), the presence of
barbels, and the paved teeth set it apart from other Trinidad species. Full
grown nurse sharks are 7 to 9 feet long. It appears to be generally distri-
buted in shallow water around Trinidad but more abundant on the north
and east coasts and around Tobago. It frequents rocky and coral bottom.
The hide is more valuable than that of any other shark, the fins are worth-
less, and the liver oil is usually of very low potency. Although I am told
that the meat is rejected by the Port-of-Spain market it is in my opinion
superior to that of most other sharks. The nurse shark is a harmless species
insofar as its armament is concerned but it is one of the most troublesome
sharks to handle. Large ones should not be taken into a small boat alive.
They may be killed by a knife thrust into the back of the head so as to
sever the vertebral column.
4. WHALE SHARK. Rhincodon typus Smith
This shark has not been recorded from Trinidad but it is likely that it is
occasionally present. It is a harmless plankton feeder but too large for a
small boat to tackle safely. It is too rare to have any commercial value.
Regular distribution of whitish spots in rows and ridged surfaces make it
resemble some riveted metal fabrication of man, and its sudden appearance
alongside a small boat is alarming, if not dangerous.
5. SMOOTH HOUND. Mustelus canis (Mitchell).
This small three or four foot shark with blunt, paved teeth was not
taken by the "SACHEM" but has been mentioned in previous reports. In
other localities the species has little commercial value.
6. TIGER SHARK. Galeocerdo cuvier. (Lesueur).
The tiger shark is the common big shark of Trinidad and Tobago. It
reaches maturity at about 9 feet 6 inches with weights of adults often in
excess of 500 lbs. The largest tiger taken by the "SACHEM" was 12 feet
9 inches long and had a liver weighing 240 lbs. Tiger sharks may be
recognized by the presence of strong reinforcing ridges along the sides
of the base of the tail in combination with a blunt, truncate snout and
wide-based large teeth, similar in the upper and lower jaws. Young tiger
sharks are spotted and striped above with black or lighter ground color.
As the shark gets older the spots become more diffuse and tend to form
stripes. In full grown examples the stripes may disappear altogether.
Four adult tiger sharks taken by the "SACHEM" off the east coast of
Trinidad were representative of a black phase of biological interest. All
of these sharks were a uniform shiny black above, contrasting sharply with
immaculate white below. Two of them, adult males, were otherwise of
normal appearance and proportion, but two, a male and a female, were
much shortened in the tail region. The female, 8 feet 6 inches long, had
size and proportions of head and fins approximately the same as that of
the normal tiger shark 11 feet 2 inches long taken at the same time.
The black phase is said to be common about Tobago. The tiger shark is
common everywhere around Trinidad but not in large schools. The hides
and fins are of good quality and although the liver oil potency is low,
the amount of liver is usually large and the oil content is often as high as
75 per cent. The fresh meat is somewhat bitter and not marketable.
7. LEMON SHARK. Negaprion brevirostris (Poey).
Our specimens of this species were three adult females and two adult males
7 feet 6 inches to 8 feet 6 inches long, taken on the east coast of Trinidad.
The females had pups 23 to 24 inches long and these all swam away in
apparent good condition when thrown overboard after being liberated
from the oviducts of the mother. The lemon shark is characterized by
having a large second dorsal fin in combination with a broadly rounded
blunt snout. It prefers shallow water away from mud and brackish condi-
tions and it is likely that the species is relatively more abundant around
Tobago than Trinidad. The hides, fins and meat are of good quality. The
liver oil potency is generally low except in adult males.
8. BLACK-NOSED SHARK. Carcharhinus acronotus (Poey)
The black-nosed shark reaches an extreme length of little more than 4
feet. It may be always recognized by the presence of a black spot or
indistinct smudge of black on the tip of the snout. Our specimens were
from the east coast of Trinidad. Although the meat of this shark is good,
the hides and fins are too small for use, and the liver oil potency is low.
9. BULL SHARK. Carcharhinus leucas (Miiller and Henle).
This would probably be the most valuable shark of any shore-based
shark fishery in Trinidad. It is a species of moderate length, the males
in the Trinidad area reaching maturity at about 6 feet 6 inches. The
females are slightly larger but the maximum length of the species as
represented by our Trinidad specimens is a little less than 9 feet. The
bull shark is heavy for its length and specimens weighing 400 lbs. or more
are not rare. The bull shark resembles other species of Eulamia and
Carcharhinus in general aspect, and for identification it is necessary first
to determine whether or not a ridge is present in the skin between the first
and second dorsal fins. If there is no trace of a ridge and if the shark is
five feet long or more and if at least a few of the teeth in the central part
of the upper jaw are roughly triangular and not deeply notched on both
sides, the shark is very likely a bull shark. Bull sharks are generally
shallow water sharks that frequent brackish water. They were taken by
the "SACHEM" all around Trinidad but in greater quantity on the south
coast. The hides are good unless ruined by fresh water and the fins and
meat have a good market value. Liver potencies of specimens taken in
the Trinidad area were relatively high but in this there appears to be
an extremely wide range of variation.
10. MARKET SHARK. Carcharhinus porosus Ranzani.
Common names of sharks in Spanish are applied so indiscriminately that
one species may have a dozen different names in use in different localities.
English common names have a somewhat wider basis. Since Carcharhinus
porosus does not have an English common name I take the liberty of
calling it market shark, an appropriate name in Trinidad at least. The
species reaches a length of little more than 3 feet and is the commonest
shark in the Gulf of Paria. It has no ridge between the dorsal fins and no
dark markings or spots. Large numbers are sold on the Trinidad market
but the hides and fins are too small to have any value. The liver oil is
sometimes relatively high in vitamin A but the livers are small and the
percentage of oil in them is low.
11. SMALL BLACK-TIP SHARK. Carcharhinus limbatus (Miiller and Henle).
Males of this species become mature at a length of not much less than
4 feet 6 inches and very few individuals of either sex exceed 6 feet. The
shark is well marked by black tips on many of the fins. Black-tips were
taken frequently by the "SACHEM" in the Gulf of Paria and in the
Serpent's Mouth. A few were collected on the north and on the east
coasts. Since the small black-tip is common and easily taken it is one of
the more valuable species around Trinidad. The hides are thin and not
large and the fins are of much lower value than those of larger sharks but
the meat is marketable and the liver in Trinidad specimens is rich in
12. LARGE BLACK-TIP SHARK. Carcharhinus maculipinnis (Poey).
One specimen was taken by the "SACHEM" off the north coast of Trini-
dad. Large black-tips reach a length of 8 feet or just a little more, and
males become mature at not much less than 5 feet 6 inches. The teeth
on the lower jaw are smooth on the edges rather than finely serrate as in
the small black-tip. However, this is a characteristic that cannot always
be checked unless a microscope is available. A more convenient way to
distinguish between the two is to view the lower jaw teeth from the sides.
In the small black-tip the cusps are somewhat sinuous and the tips curve
slightly outward. In the large black-tip these teeth are neither sinuous nor
recurved. A further difference, if both species are available for comparison,
is that the large black-tip has smaller teeth in spite of the greater size of
13. Isogomphodon oxyrhynchus (Miiller and Henle).
This shark was described originally in 1841 from an 18 inch specimen
from Surinam, and is known only from that description and a few museum
specimens in poor condition. It has been twice recorded from Trinidad.3 4
On the first day of Trinidad fishing on the north coast one small specimen
was taken but was lost before detailed examination could be made.
Probably the specimen was this species because it was noticed that it had
many rows of small sharp teeth. There was no fin markings. No other
specimens were seen.
14. SHARP-NOSED SHARK. Scoliodon lalandii (Miiller and Henle).
These are common small sharks rarely reaching more than 3 feet in length.
The species has little value except as a market fish. Sharp-nosed sharks
may be distinguished from others in Trinidad region by their size and by
the presence of grooves in the skin which originate at the covers of the
mouth and run along the sides of the jaw. The Trinidad form has been
identified as S. lalandii rather than Scoliodon terra-novae (Richardson)
because the specimens taken by the "SACHEM" appear to represent a popu-
lation of smaller sharks than terra-novae of the Northern Caribbean and
Gulf of Mexico and because embryos (at 5 inch length) of Trinidad
specimens have a dense growth of long and thread-like villi on the pseudo-
placental attachment tube, a phenomenon not yet observed for embryos of
The RIDGE-BACK SHARKS. Eulamia.
Along the east coast of the United States these are called "Ground Sharks,"
in Australia they are "Whaler Sharks," on the east coast of Florida they
are often called "Mackerel Sharks," on the west coast of Florida they are
called "Mullet Sharks," and so on. They are very common in all tem-
perate and tropical seas and there are many species that are distinctly set
off from one another by differences of habit and habitat. They generally
move in schools, frequently appearing in great numbers. The ridge-back
Eulamia were represented in the catch of the "SACHEM" by five species.
These are similar to one another in general structure and are difficult to
identify. Knowledge of the group is still insufficient to provide a stable
classification. All of them are valuable for hides and fins, and, so far as
is known, for marketable meat. The livers of Trinidad specimens taken
by the "SACHEM" were relatively high in vitamin A potency except for
Eulamia altima, a species apparently producing low potency liver through-
out its range.
15. KNOPP'S SHARK. Eulamia altima Springer
This shark is restricted to depths of 50 to 200 fathoms, and so far as
known only strays a short distance from these depths at night when it
may appear at the surface or on the shallower bottoms near deep water.
As would be expected, the catches of a dozen or more adults taken by
the "SACHEM" came from the deep water in the Dragon's Mouth. Adults
are within a length range of 7 to 9 feet and differ from other ridge-backs
in having somewhat longer and thicker snouts with wider, more prominent
depressed channels or nasal scoops, in having dermal denticles not over-
3. Vincent, Sea Fish. Trinidad 1910.
4. Fowler, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila. 67 : 1916, p. 521.
lapping and about half the size of those of the closely allied E. plumbeus
and E. milberti, and in having the large central teeth of the upper jaw
higher and exactly triangular without lateral notches. The only notable
difference of Trinidad specimens from those found off Florida was that the
Dragon's Mouth sharks were very much less resistant to the knife, a
phenomenon apparently associated with the characteristics and amount of
mineral deposits laid down around the cartilages.
16. REEF SHARK. Eulamia falciformis (Miiller and Henle).
Several reef sharks were collected by the "SACHEM" off the east coast
of Trinidad. The species prefers the vicinity of coral reefs and the edges
of oceanic banks. At times it is found at the surface in large schools. It
may be expected to be relatively more common around Tobago than
Trinidad. The fins of the reef shark, particularly the pectoral fins, are
thinner and appreciably lighter in weight than in other ridge backs. Adults
are in the size range from 5 feet 6 inches to 8 feet long and the young
are relatively large at birth. Unfortunately the name E. falciformis as now
known, probably covers two species. In Trinidad specimens, the upper
jaw teeth are very strongly notched on both margins and the cusps are
much narrower than in related ridge-backs.
17. DUSKY SHARK. Eulamia obscurus (Lesueur).
Adult dusky sharks are mature at a little more than 9 feet long and reach
a length of more than 11 feet. These sharks appear to be fairly common
off Trinidad in moderate depths. The only one taken by the "SACHEM"
within territorial waters came from the north coast. Like the reef shark,
there are apparently two forms of the dusky shark.
18. SILKY SHARK. Eulamia floridanus Bigelow, Schroeder and Springer.
Silky sharks are 7 to 10 feet 6 inches as adults and are generally sharks
of blue water. No specimens were taken by the "SACHEM" within
territorial waters of Trindad but several were secured from off the coast of
British Guiana. The silky shark is an active powerful shark with a more
slender and trim appearance than other ridge-backs. The denticles are
small and the hide often has a silky appearance. It is more pelagic than
other ridge-backs and frequently appears at the surface although it is
sometimes common in depths of more than 100 fathoms.
19. SAND-BAR SHARK. Eulamia plumbeus (Nardo).
Trinidad sand bar sharks differ from the sand-bar sharks of Florida,
Eulamia milberti, in habits and in having heavier denticles set closer to-
gether. Eulamia plumbeus is the name properly applied to sand-bar sharks
of the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean and is tentatively used for the
Trinidad form although additional information is needed to verify the
identity of the Trinidad and eastern Atlantic species. The north coast
of Trinidad is a nursery ground for the sand-bar shark and specimens of
sizes from 30 inches up to 7 feet 6 inches long were taken. The species
does not reach a length of as much as 8 feet.
20. BONNET-HEAD SHARK. Sphyrna tiburo (Linnaeus).
The bonnet-head shark reaches a length of about 3 feet and is very likely
common in the Gulf of Paria in shallow water. Although no specimen
of this kind was taken by the "SACHEM" a specimen was seen in the
market and it has been reported as being common in Trinidad. It may be
recognized by its spade-shaped head that has no identation in its marginal
outline at the nasal apertures, but is not regularly oval as in S. media.
The bonnet-head is in demand on the Port-of-Spain market but it is too
small to have much value otherwise.
21. SCOOP-HEAD SHARK. Sphyrna media Springer.
This form is only a little larger than the preceding and probably does
not greatly exceed 4 feet in length. It was described from Pacific specimens
and this is the first positive record of its occurrence in the Atlantic. Two
adult females were taken by the "SACHEM" in the Gulf of Paria. One
of these contained eight 4 inch embryos. It is probably too small and
uncommon to be of any commercial importance.
22. GREAT HAMMERHEAD. Sphyrna tudes (Valenciennes).
The several great hammerheads taken by the "SACHEM" ranged from
9 feet to 12 feet 6 inches long. Some specimens of this species have
been taken in other localities as large as 15 feet or more. The great
hammerhead has a wide but very shallow groove in the front margin of
its head running from the nasal aperture toward the center of the head.
In other hammerheads this groove is narrow, deep, and slit-like. The
liver of the species usually produces high potency oil and the fins are
valuable. The hides are valuable if in good condition but are thin and
are somewhat difficult to prepare in first-class condition. The meat of
all the hammerheads appears to be in demand on the Port-of-Spain market.
These large hammerheads are very powerful and large individuals are too
much for small boats and light gear. However, hammerheads die quickly
when their free movements are restrained and if properly handled can be
killed with relatively light tackle. They usually die within an hour if en-
tangled in even a light net.
23. COMMON HAMMERHEAD. Sphyrna diplana Springer.
The common hammerhead Sphyrna zygaena (Linnaeus) requests the
higher latitudes at least to the north and in the western Atlantic. I have
not been able to verify a record of its occurrence south of Salerno, Florida,
where it is occasionally taken as a straggler in schools with S. diplana.
One specimen of diplana was collected off the north coast of Trinidad.
This species differs from other hammerheads of Trinidad in having a very
low second dorsal fin with a long slender posterior lobe, its length more
than twice as great as the height of the fin. S. diplana reaches a length of
10 feet or a little more and is not mature at less than 6 feet 6 inches.
24. SOUTH AMERICAN HAMMERHEAD. Sphyrna bigelowi Springer.
The second dorsal fin of this species is somewhat higher than in S. diplana
and the form does not reach such a large size. The smallest adult male
taken by the "SACHEM" was 5 feet 6 inches long and the largest 6 feet
6 inches long. However, fewer than a dozen specimens, all males were
taken. Most of these were caught in the Gulf of Paria.
(V) IDENTIFICATION OUTLINE. 5
1. Sharks with expanded, flattened heads; hammerheads and shovel-nosed
A. Head hammer shaped, its front margin lobed or scalloped.
a. Groove in front margin of head shallow; second dorsal fin
high ........................................ Sphyrna tudes
5. It is suggested that identification of species be undertaken with the aid of the well
illustrated "Guide to Commercial Shark Fishing," Anglo-American Caribbean Com-
mission, Washington, 1944, or better, with "Fishes of the Western North Atlantic" vol.
1, article 3, The Sharks, by Bigelow and Schroeder, Wm. Sears Foundation for Ocean-
ography. New Haven, 1948.
b. Groove deep; second dorsal fin low ............ Sphyrna diplana
c. Groove deep; second dorsal fin intermediate ...... Sphyrna bigelowi
B. Head evenly rounded or spade-shaped, not lobed or indented.
a. Head oval, not at all pointed in front ............ Sphyrna media
b. Head spade-shaped ........................... Sphyrna tiburo
2. Sharks with keels along each side of the base of the tail.
a. Teeth large, wide, with saw-like edges ........ Galeocerdo cuvier
b. Teeth narrow, sinuous, lance-like ............ Isurus oxyrinchus
c. Teeth very small, enormous sharks with terminal
mouths ................................ Rhincodon typus
3. Sharks with low, blunt, paved teeth.
a. Hide smooth when rubbed in direction toward the
head .............................. Ginglymostoma cirratum
b. Hide sand-paper like when rubber toward the head .. Mustelus canis
4. Sharks not as in 1, 2, or 3, but with second dorsal fins with area as great or
greater than one-half the area of the first dorsal.
a. Teeth not serrate, long, narrow and sinuous, with a
small hook or toothlet at the base on either side; snout
pointed .................................. Carcharias taurus
b. Teeth not serrate, cusps narrow, somewhat flattened,
without toothlets; snout broadly rounded .... Negaprion brevirostris
c. Teeth serrate on cusps; snout pointed; second dorsal
about half as large as first dorsal ...... Isogomphodon oxyrhinchus
5. Small sharks not as above but with two grooves on either side
originating at the corners of the mouth and extending nearly
parallel to the mouth for a distance about equal to the diameter
of the eye ..................................... Scoliodon lalandii
6. Sharks without special structures as under 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Typical sharks.
A. A ridge in the skin between the first and second dorsal fins,
a. Denticles not imbricate, deep water sharks, 7 to 9 feet
as adults ................................... Eulamia altima
b. Denticles not imbricate, 6 to 8 feet long as adults Eulamia plumbeus
c. Denticles imbricate, 5 to 8 feet long as adults, narrow
tooth cusps ............................ Eulamia falciformis
d. Denticles imbricate, 9 to 11 feet long as adults ... Eulamia obscurus
e. Denticles imbricate, 8 to 10 feet long as adults ... Eulamia floridanus
B. No trace of a ridge in the skin between the dorsal fins.
1. Teeth of upper jaw with narrow cusps on broad bases.
a. Lower jaw teeth serrate, tips recurved outward, fins
black-tipped ........................ Carcharhinus limbatus
b. Lower jaw teeth smooth, tips not recurved, fins
black-tipped .................... Carcharhinus maculipinnus
c. Fins not black-tipped ............ Isogomphodon oxyrhinchus
2. Teeth of upper jaw flattened somewhat triangular.
a. Tip of nose with a black smudge, small
sharks ............................ Carcharhinus acronotus
b. No black-tip on nose, small sharks, under
4 feet .............................. Carcharhinus porosus
c. Larger sharks, adults over 6 feet long ...... Carcharhinus leucas
The Commercial And Game Fishing
Industries Of Bermuda
Louis S. MOWBRAY
Curator of the Bermuda Government Aquarium and Museum
THE TOTAL REEF area of Bermuda inside the 100-fathom curve is approx-
imately 400 square miles, exclusive of two off-lying banks 10 and 18 miles
from shore. The area of each of these 30 fathom banks is about 50 sq. mi.
In all, there is a maximum area of 500 square miles from which to keep con-
tinuously supplied with sea food the requirements of a resident population of
42,000, and a transient tourist trade of 60,000 a year.
The supply of fish has never been able to meet the demand, though the
almost complete lack of coordination between the catch and its distribution is
at least partially to blame for this. Other factors, which will be listed later,
also have a direct relationship to this deficiency.
To supplement the local catch, 36,500 lbs. of fresh, 377,000 lbs. of salted
and 77,000 lbs. of smoked fish were imported during 1948.
The commercial fishing industry of Bermuda is hardly worthy of the name.
There are slightly less than 100 men engaged on a full time basis in fishing,
and fifty-five boats comprise the entire fleet.
As there is no marketing center, the more enterprising individuals have a
contract for their catch direct with one or more hotels or guest houses, a meat
market or one of the United States bases. It is in this connection that the
Government may well assist the industry.
Fishermen who operate on a very small scale generally dispose of their
catch at the dockside, and there is never a lack of customers. The fish is
invariably fresh, due mainly to the fact that most boats are fitted with live
wells and that nearly all ply their trade within about two hours' run from the
The fish are sold flayed or scaled, and gutted, to both the wholesale and
retail trade. The wholesale price averages one shilling and sixpence (21c. U.S.)
and the meat markets retail it at around two shillings per pound. The price per
pound at the boats is two shillings in the city areas (28c. U.S.) and in the
isolated parts it is a sixpence or so less.
It has always been the opinion of the writer that a Government owned and
operated quick freezing plant, built primarily for the use of the fishing trade,
would be an excellent investment in the economy of the Colony, and in times
of emergency would serve as an added place of storage for meats. This would
be a great stimulant to the fishing industry, and would enable the fishermen to
build up a reserve during the summer months to take care of some of their
losses in winter.
Those interested in improving the lot of the fisherman are hoping that the
present Legislature will agree to provide adequate quick freezing facilities. The
Fisheries Committee of the Board of Trade has already recommended this.
In general, fish in Bermuda fall under two categories. Such species as
grouper, rockfish, mangrove and red snapper, hind, porgy, bream, grunts,
margate-fish, hogfish, yellowtail, etc., are classified locally as "bottom fish,"
while the two species of amberjack, mackerel, bonito, tuna, and jacks, etc., are
known as "floating fish." The term "floating" indicates that these fish are always
caught at or near the surface. The former are invariably caught by fish pot or
hand line, while the latter are taken by seine or hand line. Trolling is seldom
indulged in by commercial men as a principal method of making their catch,
though many of them hang a line over the stern with an artificial lure while
running to and from their pots or fishing spots. Trolling is a phase which
could definitely improve the catch seasonally, especially when tuna and wahoo
are biting well.
The total annual catch of fish, by all methods, averages about 900,000
pounds in weight each year. The lobster catch is approximatley 50,000 lobsters,
averaging around 160,000 pounds in weight each year. The estimated total
value of the combined catch is 78,000 ($312,000 before devaluation). In spite
of the comparatively small total catch, at least two of the fishermen have been
able to average about 2,000 net from their efforts over the past few years.
There is no incentive to encourage anyone to enter the fishing trade in
Bermuda. The only concession which is made to the fishermen is one of little
consequence, and that is the fact that they are permitted to buy gasoline, of
an inferior quality, at sixpence less per gallon than it is sold to the motor
vehicle trade at the filling stations. The present price per gallon is two shillings
and seven pence (37c U.S.) to the fishing boats.
Following is a list of the fish of greatest commercial value in Bermuda
waters. Common names are followed by their scientific designation in order
that there will be no confusion as to the actual species referred to:
Grouper or Hamlet Whale Jack
Epinephelus striatus Caranx latus
Rockfish Turbot Trigger-fish
Mycteroperca bonaci Balistes carolinus
Hind Blue Angel-fish
Epinephelus maculosus Angelichthys isabelita
Red Grouper Gag
Epinephelus morio Mycteroperca tigris
Seriola lalandi Mycteroperca falcata
Madregal Bonito Red Rockfish
Seriola falcata Mycteroperca venenosa apua
Horse-eye Bonito Black Grouper
Seriola dumerili Garrupa nigrita
Yellowtail Guinea Chick Grouper
Ocyurus chrysurus Epinephelus drummondhayi
Gray Snapper Porgy
Lutianus griseus Calamus bajonado
Red Snapper Mackerel
Lutianus aya, buccanella, Euthynnus alleteratus
campechanus, etc. Mackerel
Spot Snappers Auxis thazard
Lutianus synagris Big-eyed Tuna
Hog Fish Parathunnus atlanticus
Lachnolaimus maximus Yellow-fin or Allison Tuna
Margate-fish Neothunnus allisoni
Haemulon album Oceanic Bonito
Blue-striped Grunt Katsuwonus pelamis
Haemulon sciurus Wahoo
Bream Acanthocybium solandri
Diplodus argenteus Pompano
Barracuda Trachinotus palometa
Sphyraena barracuda Gar-fish
Sennet Hemiramphus brasiliensis
Sphyraena picudilla Bermuda Chub
Gwelly Kyphosus sectatrix
Caranx guara Mullet
Blue Runner Mugil cephalus
Caranx crysos Parrot-fish
Sparisoma scarus, pseudoscarus
Besides the foregoing there are several other species occasionally brought
in by the commercial fishermen. Dolphin, jewfish and tapioca or oil-fish
are not infrequently found. The two latter are almost invariably caught at
night, and in deep water while fishing for red snappers. Dolphin are purely
surface fish and are usually only caught when trolling, a form of fishing
seldom indulged in by the commercial industry. The jewfish is the same as
that taken in Florida and along the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico, where
it is usually found in very shallow water.
Following are some statistics concerning the annual catch. The figures are
estimates only, as there are no regulations requiring an annual catch return
being filed by the fishermen. The method of arriving at the estimate is purely
one of average, but it is believed to be within 10 per cent of the actual catch.
As few of the men keep within records, the estimate is based on average
number of trips per week in both summer and winter months, and the average
catch per trip in pounds weight.
Number of men employed full time in fishing ........ 100
Number of boats employed full time in fishing ...... 55
Estimated catch of fish 1948 (an average year) ...... 900,000 lbs.
Estimated catch of lobster 1948 (an average year) ... 160,000
Estimated total value to the industry of the combined
catch of fish and lobster ..................... 78,000
Average value of annual turtle catch ............... 250
Average wholesale price of fish ................... 1/6 per lb.
Average wholesale price of lobster ................ 1/3 "
Price of turtle, retail, dressed ..................... 3/6 "
Sea food imported into Bermuda in the year 1948 to supplement the annual
catch. Figures supplied through the courtesy of the Collector of Customs,
Fish (canned or bottled) ............. 20,212
Fish, Cod (salted) ................... 377,076 lbs. 16,770
Fish, fresh ......................... 36.367 3,449
Fish (shell) ........................ 24,053 4,666
Fish (smoked or pickled) ............ 76,870 4,857
514,366 lbs. 49,914
Oysters, clams, conchs and crabs are not found in commercial quantities in
Bermuda, and, therefore, have no bearing on the trade. Perhaps half a dozen in-
dividuals make a part time living from the gathering of mussels (Arca oc-
cidentalis) which fetch a current price of four shillings per quart removed
from the shell. Until twenty years ago the scallop (Pecton ziczac) played an
important part in the sea food trade, but for some undetermined reason they
have become almost extinct. Rigid protective laws, in force before any undue
shortage was noted, failed to have any effect on their preservation. They are
so rare on the market at present that they command a price of ten shillings a
dozen when available. The almost complete lack of mangroves makes the
cultivation of the mangrove oyster impracticable.
Game fishing in Bermuda has had many set-backs since its commencement
in 1934. The trade was just about getting in its stride in the summer of 1939
when the advent of World War II terminated all sport fishing activity abruptly.
Following is a list of fish which are considered to be of importance to the
sport fishing industry of Bermuda. The common names are those used locally.
The fish called amberfish is the same as amberjack elsewhere, and one known
here as bonito has no relation to the bonito of the U.S., it being a species of
amberjack-the madregal. The common bonito is known locally as mackerel.
Blue Marlin Black marlin
Makaira ampla Makaira bermudae
White marlin Wahoo
Makaira albida Acanthocybium solandri
Oceanic bonito Chub
Katsuwonus pelamis Kyphosus sectatrix
Mackerel or Little tunny Bonefish
Euthynnus alleteratus Albula vulpes
Big-eyed tuna Pompano
Parathunnus atlanticus Trachinotus palometa
Neothunnus allisoni Dolphin
Yellow-fin Coryphaena hippurus
Neothunnus albacora Barracuda
Albacore (rare) Sphyraena barracuda
Germo alalunga Sennet
Bonito Sphyraena picudilla
Lachnolaimus maximus Caranx sp. 4
Diplodus argenteus Ocyurus chrysurus
Amberfish Gray Snapper
Seriola lalandi Lutianus griseus
Seriola dumerili Calamus bajonado
Seriola falcata Mycteroperca bonaci
Specimens of amberjack have been caught weighing over 170 lbs., and rock-
fish up to 180 lbs.
Repetition of Egg-Laying and Number of Eggs
of the Bermuda Spiny Lobster1-
EDWIN P. CREASER
Biology Department, Hofstra College, Long Island
DURING THE SUMMER MONTHS of 1949 the writer at the Bermuda Biological
Station engaged in a study of the egg laying habits of the Bermuda Spiny
Lobster, Panulirus argus (Latreille) 1804. This study has revealed some inter-
esting features in numbers of eggs and repetition of laying which have not been
recorded for this species in other locations.
Female specimens were tagged with a wire and lead plate fastened to a joint
of the antennae. Others were tagged with a plastic tag thrust between the
Considerable evidence was obtained by these tagging methods on the repeti-
tion of laying eggs in this species.
This evidence may be summarized as follows:
1. Tagged specimens known to have laid once in the laboratory tanks
repeated the egg laying performance.
2. Females with pleopods recently shed of eggs (as shown by the condition of
the pleopods and egg shell fragments) were tagged and released and later
recaptured with a new batch of eggs.
3. Females which had laid eggs at least once, in the laboratory showed a
condition in which either the ovaries were completely filled with eggs or were
4. A female known to have laid eggs twice, had the ovary entirely spent.
5. The second laying of eggs (at least the second) is considerably reduced
in amount and the posterior pleopods are not completely filled.
1. This study has been made possible by the writer's affiliation with the Bermuda Bio-
logical Station as summer resident biologist, and with the Biology Department of
Hofstra College, Hempstead, Long Island, N. Y.
6. Females captured late in the egg-laying season frequently carry the
reduced number of eggs. The waxy substance on the annulus ventalus, believed
to be the spermatophore, is almost completely expended at the time of the
The number of eggs deposited by the Spiny Lobster Panuluris argus
(Latreille) 1804 has been previously estimated by other scientists. Crawford
and De Smidt (1922 p. 307) have estimated that a female with a carapace
length of 3V2 inches (about 10 inches total length) carried an estimated 500,000
eggs. Those having a 4 inch carapace length laid an estimated 700,000 eggs.
Such a specimen would be about 112 inches in total length. These results
were obtained from Southern Florida specimens. Smith (1948, p. 15) states
that the number varies with the size of the animal and that a 9 inch specimen
laid about 500,000 eggs. These also were computations on Florida and Carib-
My results on the Bermuda race of lobster vary from the condition stated
above. Computations were made by counting the eggs in one gram (9988 eggs)
and multiplying this by the total weight.
A spiny lobster 10 inches long produced 669,196 eggs at one laying. An-
other, 12 inches long, laid 1,118,656 and a third, 15 inches long, laid 2,566,916
eggs. A 13 inch female tagged spiny lobster known to have laid at least once,
produced 1,008,788 eggs on the repetition or second laying, the number being
less than at the first laying.
On the basis of the foregoing it would appear that a 15 inch female might
lay in excess of 4,000,000 eggs in one season.
The smallest female observed carrying eggs was 9 inches long. During the
trapping operations in July virtually all females of varied sizes carried eggs. This
seemingly indicates that the females lay eggs annually instead of every other
year as has been suggested by some students of the species.
The number of eggs produced by the various length groups has a direct
bearing upon the conservation of the species. A conservation measure which
would save one 15 inch female would be equivalent to saving four 10 inch
Crawford, D. R. and De Smidt, W. J. J. 1922. The Spiny Lobster, Panulirus
argus, of Southern Florida: Its Natural History and Utilization. Bull. Bur.
Fish., Vol XXVIII, 1921-22. Doc. No. 925 pp. 281-310.
Smith, F. G. Walton 1948. The Spiny Lobster Industry of the Caribbean and
Florida. Carib. Comm. Carib. Res. Council Fish. Ser. 3. Guardian Com.
Printery, Port of Spain, Trinidad, B. W. I., pp. 1-49.
The Marine Fisheries Of The Caribbean
GERALD V. HOWARD
Fisheries Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States
IT IS THE INTENTION of this paper to give a general picture of the marine
fisheries of the Caribbean region. Attention is focused on the islands of the
Caribbean (the Greater and Lesser Antilles), the territories of Central America,
and the countries of South America bordering in the Caribbean Sea. The infor-
mation contained herein is based on published reports and information collected
by staff members of the Fisheries Division of FAO. Most of the published
material appears in papers of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and
the Development and Welfare Reports of the British West Indies.
The Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute is concerned with the fisheries of
the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. The two regions are characterized
by differences in conditions of productivity. What is more important, their
fishing industries are in different stages of development by reason of the wider
use of mechanized equipment in the Gulf of Mexico. Problems faced by the
two regions are not the same. Discussion here is confined to the Caribbean, the
lesser developed of the two.
Prior to World War II, large quantities of fishery products, chiefly salt cod,
were imported by countries of the Caribbean. During the war, as the result
of shortages of shipping, unavailable European supplies, diversion of North
American exports and reduced European production, imports fell off sharply.
It was evident then that local production of foodstuffs was of great necessity.
A great interest in the further development of their aquatic resources was
manifested by these countries and this has continued in postwar years. As-
sistance was received from the agencies of the United States Government and
the British Colonial Service in the form of rapid fact-finding surveys of the
fisheries and the fishery resources. More recently, the Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations, or FAO as it is familiarly known, has been
requested by some member governments to assist in surveys and in planning
Any improvement in the utilization of the fisheries resources in this region
will be a further step toward increasing world food production. It will also
improve the local diets which are often deficient in proteins and will offer new
industries and additional employment.
Oeeanography of the Area
Tropical and sub-tropical waters are not generally considered to be as pro-
ductive as those of temperate regions. However, much remains to be learned
in this connection. It appears that the concentration of nutrient salts, particu-
larly nitrates and phosphates in the upper or photosynthetic layer, limits pro-
duction of phytoplankton. These microscopic plants are the basic link in the
food chain of all living organisms of the sea. Surface layers may be replenished
with dissolved nutrient salts, by annual convection overturns, which return rich
lower waters to the surface, ocean currents, upwellings, and river waters.
The Caribbean Sea, like the Mediterranean, consists of a number of more
or less independent deep basins. The Caribbean consists of two deep basins
with half the total area having depths of 2,000 fathoms or more and about
four-fifths deeper than 1,000 fathoms. Fiedler et al. (1947) state that there is
no regular overturn and that the water in the basins is static and stable. The
flow of water into the Caribbean is restricted. Water from the Atlantic must
flow through the narrow and shallow (in comparison with the Caribbean itself)
passages of the Antilles. There are no great rivers flowing into the sea. Supplies
of nutrient salts are obtained principally from the South Equatorial Current
which sweeps along the coast of Brazil and the Guianas, picking up rich waters
from the outpourings of the great rivers of this region. It flows into the Carib-
bean mainly through the channel between Trinidad and Tobago and continues
along the coast of Venezuela, making this area of the sea productive. However,
on reaching the central and western region of the Caribbean, its productivity
The continental shelf with depths of 100 fathoms or less is restricted to
narrow coastal strips and small offshore banks. This limits the area available
inshore for demersal species. Traditionally, the world's greatest fisheries have
been carried on within the limits of the continental shelf.
Species taken in the inshore waters include bottom fishes and also some
pelagic species during certain times of the year. It is likely that the main popu-
lations of the latter are not within reach of the present fishing operations.
As is typical of tropical and sub-tropical waters, there are a multitude of
species present in the Caribbean. Of more than 300 species which are taken
commercially, 50 to 100 are commonly found in the fish markets. The relative
importance of the different species varies from country to country, but the more
important groups, in all countries, include groupers, sea basses (Family Ser-
ranidae), croakers (F. Sciaenidae), snappers, yellowtail, muttonfish (F. Lutiani-
dae), and jacks (F. Carangidae).
The clupeoid or herring-like fishes occur in numbers, too, and are known to
occur in large quantities close to shore. The only important fishery for these
species now takes place along the coast of Venezuela where they appear to be
Various other pelagic species, including members of the Scombriformes
(tunas and mackerels), are taken in small quantities. They make up less than
10 per cent of the total catch in Cuba and the Dominican Republic. In Vene-
zuela, the proportion is somewhat higher. The types of gear used do not capture
great numbers. Flying fish (F. Exocoetidae) contribute largely to the catches
of the Windward Islands of the British West Indies.
Of the mollusks and crustaceans, spiny lobsters (Panulirus spp.) and shrimps
are the more important. The former occur practically throughout the Caribbean
from the Cayman Islands catch them in the greatest numbers, though they are
with considerable quantities taken in Cuba. Turtles are also present; fishermen
fished throughout the area.
There are many indications that the fisheries of the Caribbean can be ex-
panded despite the fact that the waters may be less productive than those of
the temperate regions of the world, and the suggestion that certain preferred
species have become less abundant in some localized areas. Recent increases in
the Venezuelan landings (see Table I), which come principally from the inshore
waters, indicate that these waters will produce substantially greater yields.
While fairly intensive fishing may be carried on in some regions inshore, larger
catches appear possible by opening new grounds and by making a greater
range of species available. Present operations tend to concentrate on the pre-
ferred species. In addition, greater advantage could be taken of the seasonal
abundance of certain species such as jacks and kingfish. These and other species
occur in large schools close to shore for limited periods of time.
As present operations in the Caribbean take place within the confined area
of the continental shelf, the offshore waters appear to offer great prospects for
future development. In addition to sardines and anchovies, bluefin tuna, yellow-
fin tuna, skipjack, albacore, little tunny, bonito, frigate mackerel, mackerels,
wahoo, marlin, swordfish and sailfish are reported. One FAO observer (U.N.
Mission to Haiti, 1949) has reported schools of pelagic species in various parts
of the Caribbean; another states that purse seines are not used in the Venezuelan
sardine fishery because they take too many fish for the capacity of the present
industrial plants. Brown (1942), writing of the fisheries of Trinidad and
Tobago, is optimistic of the commercial possibilities of schools of bonito which
occur off the coast of Tobago. He also states (1945) that fishermen of the
Windward Islands take species of tuna incidental to flying fish catches and that
greater use could be made of the tuna group. Similar reports come from other
parts of the Caribbean. Unfortunately, relatively nothing is known as to the
size, regularity of appearance, and behavior of these schools. Much has to be
learned about the distribution and abundance of the pelagic species before their
future potential can be predicted.
COMMERCIAL FISHERIES OPERATIONS
The history of fishing in the Caribbean shows, with few exceptions, that the
methods used by the majority of the fishermen have not changed appreciably
.during the last several decades. Variations in the dug-out canoes, which range
up to 30 or 35 feet in length, and the "dori" or keeled double-end canoe are the
most common craft. Canoes are slowly being replaced by sailboats of approxi-
mately the same length but of greater beam, and to a lesser extent by powered
,craft. Most of the gear employed includes pots, weirs or traps, various types of
gill nets, beach seines, dip nets, cast nets, and hook and line combinations-
principally the single hook and line.
Cuba and Venezuela have more powered and larger sized craft than the other
.countries. Of Cuba's total fleet of 12,000 vessels, approximately 2,500 are
engaged in full-time fishing (Fiedler et al., 1947, and Martinez, 1948). About
.one-third of the 2,500 are powered and the remainder use sails. One-tenth of
the full-time craft are more than 5 tons. Several motor vessels of modern design
have been introduced in Cuba within the last few years. Cuba also has a fleet
,of 50 or more vessels with an average length of 100 feet. Until recently, the
latter vessels fished principally off the Mexican coast.
Venezuela has a program in progress, which began in 1947, to improve her
fishing fleet and other sections of the fishing industry. The work is being carried
on by the Venezuelan Development Corporation, a government agency. One of
the first projects was to issue credits for the motorizing of 750 of the fleet which
included 4,300 craft in 1947. Motors being installed in 1947 ranged from 9.8
horsepower outboards for the smaller craft of 12 to 18 feet to 42 horsepower
marine engines for vessels of 40 to 50 feet. The program has now expanded to
include the construction of larger craft and cold storage plants. Its purpose is
to aid where it can in the development of the fishing industry. A private non-
profit organization, the Basic Economy Corporation, is also assisting in this field.
The Caribbean countries fall into two groups with respect to the importance
of the fishing industry in their economy. Fishing in Venezuela and the island
territories contributes appreciably to the food production. The organization of
the industry is more advanced in Cuba and Venezuela than it is in the other
countries of this group. The second group, which includes Colombia and the
Central American states, have few fishermen and have shown until recently
little activity in developing their aquatic resources. Costa Rica is presently
investigating the possibility of establishing a fishing industry.
Although all the Caribbean countries do not collect fish production statistics,
the situation in this regard is better than most people realize. Many of the
countries supply estimates of production to FAO, while the Dominican Repub-
lic and Venezuela each report their catches by species. Cuba reports the Havana
landings, which are the most important, by species.
Table I shows the most recent estimates of production available for each of
the Caribbean countries, along with the average annual pre-war landings for
some of them. Statistics for half the countries are based on information ob-
tained by FAO and reported in the fisheries section of the preliminary draft of
the Joint ECLA/FAO Working Party Report on Agricultural Requisites
(1949). ECLA refers to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin
America. Where FAO statistics were not available, the writer used estimates
given in various other publications. The reader is cautioned that production
figures may include minor quantities from freshwater areas. Landings given for
those countries which border the Pacific as well as the Caribbean include catches
from both waters.
The island territories are the chief importers of salted cod and other products
in the Caribbean. After the outbreak of World War II, imports became neg-
ligible. As these imports contributed largely to the total amount of fish con-
sumed and because the island areas could have used more fish, it might have
been expected that local production would increase. Although the over-all
Caribbean production did become greater, increased landings were mainly
limited to the two countries with the better organized industries: Venezuela
and Cuba (see Table I). Fishing equipment used in the island areas was not
capable of greater production and the number of fishermen did not increase.
Venezuela and Cuba were able to increase their catches because they had
organized industries, and a number of larger craft and more modern gear.
Canning and salting absorbed the increased production. The most remarkable
expansion has taken place in Venezuela. Ten years ago, most of the catch was
eaten fresh. In 1947, about 17,500 metric tons, or less than 25 per cent of the
total catch, reached the fresh market, the remainder being canned or salted.
The Central American countries have few fishermen in normal times. During
the war, fishermen often found more remunerative employment in other
industries. As the countries had adequate supplies of food from their agri-
cultural resources, the fishing activities did not change.
Some of the Problems Involved in Future Development
Most of the countries are potentially capable of expanding their fishing
industries. Recent developments in Venezuela and Cuba testify to this. How-
ever, it will be a slow process and many problems will have to be solved.
Generally, the people of Latin America are not by nature fishermen. The
fishermen of the Cayman Islands are notable exceptions. The fact that the
people are not traditionally seafaring retards fisheries development.
Trained personnel is required in all phases of fisheries, from fishermen to
research workers. This basic requirement can be met by the organization of a
small number of training centers, preferably within the area. As an immediate
substitute, students can be sent to study in countries which have had more
experience in fisheries matters. Such an arrangement should be temporary.
Marketing and distribution methods must be improved if greater catches are
to be absorbed. Better transportation and storage facilities are required along
with retail markets. Elaborate and expensive refrigeration plants are not sug-
gested, but the wider use of crushed ice in the shipment of fresh fish could be
of great advantage. Increased processing of fishery products would offer a
ESTIMATES OF PRODUCTION
OF THE FISHERIES OF THE COUNTRIES OF THE CARIBBEAN.
WEIGHTS IN METRIC TONS
Weight Year Weight
French West Indies
Leeward & Windward Is.
Netherlands West Indies
Trinidad & Tobago
Virgin Islands (Br.)
Virgin Islands (U.S.)
. .... 1939
. .... 1940
Source for specific year
800 Frank (1944)
450 UN Interim Commission on
Food & Agriculture (1945)
230 Fiedler et al. (1947)
UN Interim Commission on
Food & Agriculture (1945)
UN Interim Commission on
Food & Agriculture (1945)
1,300 Fiedler et al. (1947)
850 Brown (1942)
200 Brown (1945)
280 Fiedler et al. (1947)
Estimate includes Pacific coast landings.
**Data presented in the preliminary draft of the Joint ECLA/FAO Working Party
Report on Agricultural Requisites (1949).
***Excludes canned fish production, mainly sardines. Lacking an accurate conversion
factor, it is estimated that 8,000 to 10,000 metric tons of raw material were used for
canning. Fish were first canned in Venezuela in 1943.
further means of absorbing larger catches. Processed products which are in-
expensive and adapted to the tastes of the people should be developed.
The indigenous people of the Caribbean countries generally do not care for
fishery products. They prefer meat. This is particularly true in Central America.
Consumer education programs sponsored by the governments are necessary to
encourage these people to eat more fish. Advertising programs of this type have
proved successful in other regions of the world in increasing the domestic con-
sumption of fishery products.
Present fishing methods and equipment can be improved. According to the
ECLA/FAO report cited, the 6,300 fishermen of Iceland catch considerably
more fish than the 135,000 or more in Latin America. Granting that the north
temperate waters are richer in resources, the wide use of non-mechanized gear
in Latin America is largely responsible for this great difference. The intro-
duction of better craft and gear involves an outlay of capital beyond the means
of most ordinary fishermen. Governments may be able to offer financial as-
sistance in the form of credits or loans. Evidence of the effectiveness of such
schemes has been shown, for instance, by the Venezuelan Development Cor-
poration which has been instrumental in increasing fish production in Venezuela.
Experimental fishing investigations would be extremely profitable in the de-
termination of the most suitable craft and gear. International cooperation in
such work would be beneficial and would avoid duplication of effort and keep
costs at a minimum. Any introduction of improved craft and gear must be
gradual in order that the increased catch can be absorbed.
The effective expansion of fishing operations to include the offshore pelagic
species, such as the tunas, involves large investments for mechanized boats
and gear. Such enterprises cannot be expected until there are assured markets
for the catches. Nevertheless, this field offers great possibilities. Government
assistance and outside help in the form of technical knowledge and capital
appear necessary before offshore fishing operations become extensive.
MANAGEMENT OF THE RESOURCES
The greatest need in the Caribbean is development and exploration. Agencies
responsible for fisheries matters should give these problems the highest priority.
They must be attacked with energy and imagination. The Caribbean people
have the necessary talents. Recent advances in Venezuela testify to this.
Although development is the first essential, management plans must keep
abreast with the former if the present and future fisheries are to maintain sus-
tained yields. From the biological point of view, ideal management controls
exploitation to allow recruitment and growth to be equal to the catch. Replace-
ment would be equal to the catch. No fishery in the world operates under such an
ideal situation. However, there are management programs which have permitted
once depleted fisheries to rebuild and successfully maintain increased yields.
Further research will probably determine the optimum yield. Theoretically,
most fishery biologists are working toward such a goal. However, the approach
is not always the desired one. It is unfortunate that many research programs
become academic rather than practical.
Some of the Caribbean countries have agencies for fisheries matters and some
issue regulations governing fishing practices, such as prescribing types of gear
to be used and fishing seasons. Many of the regulations are probably useless and
perhaps even harmful. Regulations formulated without proper knowledge of
a fishery's requirements usually serve no useful purpose.
None of the Caribbean countries concerns itself, to any effective degree,
with biological research. The fact that three countries collect landing statistics
is encouraging. It is hoped that others will follow their good example. Vene-
zuela, Cuba and Puerto Rico conduct some technological research. The initia-
tion of developmental programs, particularly in Venezuela, testifies to the fact
that the countries of the Caribbean realize their importance.
Proper management programs cannot be instituted without recommendations
based upon investigations by trained personnel. The basis of management is a
knowledge of the relationship between recruitment and growth and the catch,
and a knowledge of the life history of the species involved. The former should
be given the highest priority. With numerous closely related species of the same
families, neither phase of the problem will be simple in the Caribbean.
Although it is usually impossible to measure in numbers the magnitude of
various populations of commercial species, it is possible to determine whether
the population is increasing or decreasing. This can be determined by a system
of catch statistics together with a record of the fishing effort required to take
the catch, the area fished, and adequate sampling of the landings to determine
size and age compositions.
Although neither the management nor the development of fisheries is easy,
as more advanced fishing nations have discovered, there is nothing involved
which is beyond the capacities of the Caribbean people. The fisheries of the
Caribbean have made an important contribution towards obtaining a balanced
local diet. They are capable of much more. The exploitation and proper manage-
ment of the resources of the sea offer a challenge to man's ingenuity.
BROWN, H. H. 1942. The sea fisheries of Trinidad and Tobago. Development and Wel-
fare in the British West Indies, Development and Welfare Bulletin No. 1. Barbados,
B. W. I.
1945. The fisheries of the Windward and Leeward Islands. ibid., Bulletin No. 20.
FIEDLER, R. H, LOBELL, M. J. AND LUCAS, C. R. 1947. The fisheries and fisheries
resources of the Caribbean. United States Department of the Interior. Fish and Wild-
life Service, Fishery Leaflet No. 259. Washington, D. C.
FRANK, MURRAY. 1944. Fisheries of the Colonial West Indies. United States Depart-
ment of Commerce. Foreign Commerce Weekly. December 2. Washington, D. C.
MARTINEZ, J. L. 1948. The Cuban fishing industry. United States Department of the
Interior. Fish and Wildlife Service, Fishery Leaflet No. 308. Washington, D. C.
THOMPSON, E. F. 1945. Fisheries of Jamaica. Development and Welfare in the Br:tish
West Indies, Development and Welfare Bulletin No. 18. Barbados, B. W. I.
UNITED NATIONS ECONOMIC COMMISSION FOR LATIN AMERICA. 1949. Joint
ECLA/FAO working party report on agricultural requisites. Preliminary Draft. Mimeo.
Lake Success, New York.
UNITED NATIONS INTERIM COMMISSION ON FOOD AND AGRICULTURE. 1945.
Report of the Technical Committee on Fisheries. Washington, D. C.
UNITED NATIONS. 1949. MISSION TO HAITI. Report of the United Nations Mission
of technical assistance to the Republic of Haiti. Lake Success, New York.
Chairman-J. L. BAUGHMAN, Chief Marine Biologist,
Texas Game, Fish and Oyster Commission, Rockport, Texas.
New Developments In The Menhaden Industry
JAMES NELSON GOWANLOCH
Chief Biologist, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
MENHADEN occupy a unique role in the economy of the ocean and in the
economy of man, with whom they certainly have no personal interest. Fair-
field Osborn and William Vogt have so well expressed the idea of a "plundered
planet" and the "Road to Survival." This must inevitably lead man to con-
template his use of the vast and strange fields of the oceans of the planet
upon which he dwells.
Menhaden in those oceans perform a peculiar although not a unique part.
They harvest the "grass of the sea," the diatoms, desmids and dinoflagellates,
copepods and other teeming microscopic plant and animal organisms of the
seven seas and by icthyological alchemy transform them into lipstick, house
paint, chicken food and drugs that must enter, to save human lives, the worlds of
otherwise doomed human beings. Menhaden, therefore, merit regard.
The Menhaden fishery has risen spectacularly to excel by its more than one
billion pounds annual production all other single fisheries in the western hemi-
sphere. These figures have been very kindly provided to the writer by Dr. Lionel
Walford of the Fish and Wildlife Service. What makes the impact of this fact
more severe is that at no time in our recorded history have the materials de-
rived from the Menhaden fishery been more critically needed.
The writer had the great privilege of participating in the recent United
Nations Conference at Lake Success, New York, the first ever held designed
to contemplate in a global pattern the utilization and conservation of this
planet's natural resources in terms of world nations and world populations.
It is necessary in the evaluation of any fishery or other resource to orient one-
self and see wherein in the pattern of human economy that fishery fits.
Two species of Menhaden exist on the Atlantic coast. Two species exist
on the coasts of the Gulf of Mexico. Their pursuit and capture is accomplished
by a highly specialized fishery method, i.e., the use of peculiar gear called the
Menhaden are not used directly as human food, although during the war an
attempt at canning these species for direct human food was made.
Utilization of Menhaden exceeds in length of time any other application of
fisheries' products in continental America since the Indians instructed the
Pilgrims to plant Menhaden and corn together.
The intervening years have held the record of changing and technologically
more and more refined processing. Menhaden oil, the first product, was simply
secured by permitting the fish to rot in barrels. Later, omitting the long inter-
evening history, it may merely be pointed out that the fish scrap became fish
meal, used to fortify stock foods.
The writer served as a member of a wartime committee of the National
Research Council which, upon the recommendation of the President of the
United States, issued an order forbidding the use of any fish meals as fertilizer
since its value elsewhere was so great.
The present situation is this. At no time in the history of the world has
there been greater need of the proximate and ultimate products of the Men-
haden industry than now exists.
The Gulf of Mexico, with 750,000 square miles, one of the great inland seas
of the world, remains virtually unexplored. Its potential productivity may well
be not alone of national, but of global importance. The investigation of the
Gulf of Mexico should be given high priority in any national hydrographic and
marine biological program and the search for knowledge of Menhaden re-
sources should have in that high priority a high position on the scientific agenda.
It should be pointed out that the United States in 1948 produced 56,200 tons
of fish oil, our republic being the largest producer of fish oil in the world. It
should be further pointed out that in that year, 1948, Menhaden provided 49
per cent of our total fish oils.
A vast amount of careful scientific research has established the importance
of the amino acids derived from Menhaden protein products, known as fish
water or "fishstick" and no longer desiccated to the stage of fish meal. Within
the past few months, there has appeared a flood of papers indicating that these
amino acids (which are the building stones of proteins that make up the struc-
ture of all animals, including man, and of all plants) are not adequate when they
are derived from plants, but when they are supplemented by the addition of
only five per cent of fish amino acids (in these experiments specifically fish
amino acids derived from Menhaden), the deficiencies are remedied and an
astonishing impetus is given both to growth and, in the instance of poultry, to
One factor must be here emphasized. The essential conduct and the desirable
expansion of the Menhaden industry come into violent and head-on collision
with one factor, i.e., the misunderstanding of three things: first, the fact that
the proper use of the Menhaden fishing gear, the purse seine, does not involve
the capture of game fish or other commercial fish; second, the fact that, as estab-
lished particularly by the excellent pioneering and convincing studies augmented
by still unpublished and vast scientific surveys supervised by Jack Baughman,
Menhaden do not constitute an element of any importance whatever in the food
chain of game fish or of other commercial fish; and, third, that the proper use
of the purse seine (which is the only practical use of this gear) does not in any
way damage the nursery grounds of shrimp, of game fish or other commercial
fish nor of oyster grounds.
The Menhaden fishery, the greatest in the western hemisphere, presents
two problems. First is the problem of efficient production, second is the neces-
sity to show that public good does not conflict with private enterprise in the
Menhaden fishery. In no fisheries question in decades have the problems been
more clearly defined.
Outline Of A Research Program On The Life
History Of The Trout And Redfish
J. L. BAUGHMAN, Chief Marine Biologist,
Texas Game, Fish and Oyster Commission
THE GROUNDWORK for life history studies of the trout (Cynoscion nebulosus)
and the redfish (Sciaenops ocellata) was laid by John C. Pearson in his paper
"The Natural History and Conservation of the Redfish and Other Commercial
Sciaenids on the Texas Coast" (Bull. U.S. Bur. Fish. 44:129-214).
While Pearson's work on these two fish solved many major problems of their
life history, there still remains an enormous amount of biological and ecological
work to be done before it is possible to determine a valid factual basis for
management practices and legislation to conserve these fish.
Probably the question most urgently in need of solution now is the relation-
ship of these fish to other marine inhabitants of the bays and Gulf, as well as to
man, and what effect this relationship is having on the numbers of these two
species. What is the food of these species and do the bays furnish sufficient
food to support a large population?
This is particularly important in regard to the smaller stages, up to three or
four inches in length, about whose food little is known.
Much work along these lines has been done by the laboratory of the Texas
Game, Fish and Oyster Commission. From June 7, 1948 to August 31, 1949
the stomachs of 13,288 trout and 3,137 redfish were examined and, in general,
it may be stated that the principal food of both species is shrimp. However, the
fish examined have all been adults, and there is no accurate knowledge regard-
ing the requirements of the immature fish.
Old Coast and Geodetic Survey charts show that, in many areas of the Gulf
bays now having muddy bottoms, there was formerly sand or shell, both of
which are apparently fairly well liked by these two species. Has this change
damaged the carrying capacity of the bays so that they will no longer supply
the population of marine organisms they once did?
What is a normal spawning? Is there a great enough deposition of eggs by
these two to produce enough young fish to utilize all the food now produced
in the bays?
To answer this it is necessary to know exactly where these spawning grounds
are. Are they on clear sand bottom or are they located in areas where there is
a dense bottom vegetation? What value is such vegetation, if any, to spawning
fish? Should these grounds be protected? If so, why, and from what? How does
vegetation affect the adult fish? In one case, in Currituck Sound, it was observed
that when the vegetation was destroyed in a certain bay, fishing declined 90
What is the actual effect of nets other than shrimp trawls on these species?
Are these nets placing too heavy a drain on the species through selective action?
Do trash fish move in to take the place of the much-sought-after redfish and
trout when they are removed from an area? Is the action of the shrimp trawls
in removing millions of pounds of trash fish from the waters each year beneficial
or damaging? If these trash fish are not removed, will there be many more
competitors for shrimp in the bays and in the Gulf? What effect will this have
on the food of the two species in question?
Do trout and redfish migrate? If so, where do they come from and where
do they go? What controls this movement? Is it temperature, currents, food
concentrations, spawning, water turbidity, or just an urge to travel to greener
pastures? What predators eat them? What perils beset the growth of fry? What
diseases, parasites, or illnesses kill the older fish?
How does the sports fishing affect them? Is it true that catches average much
less in number than they used to, but is this because there are less fish or be-
cause there are more fishermen? The population of the Texas coast has increased
tremendously during the past fifty years. How many more fishermen are there
now than in 1900? What is the effect of the taking of thousands of undersized
trout and redfish (all of them too small to spawn) by sportsmen?
According to the Pacific Halibut Commission, in each stock of fishes the
major changes "are due to the fishery itself."
The Commission says that the same principles applied to any fishery. From
this, there is certainly no reason to believe that the destruction of thousands
and thousands of small trout and redfish that have never spawned will have
any other than a major and adverse effect on the fishery of our own coast.
With this in mind, should a size limit be placed on the fish in the sportsmen's
catch as it is on the commercial fishermen's? What size limit, however? Should
it be a minimum length, or a maximum, or both? Should trout and redfish be
placed on the game fish list so that they can not be sold in the markets even
though a hungry world needs all the food it can get? If this is done, should a
bag limit be placed on the sportsmen's catch so that the stock will not again be
decimated and we may keep for the few what should be used for the benefit
of the many?
Faced with these questions, it has been somewhat difficult to prepare an
integrated program that will cover everything that needs to be covered, particu-
larly with the biologists and equipment on hand. However, the problem is
being attacked from as many angles as possible, in order to obtain as much data
as possible with the means at hand.
A series of stations has been set up covering the coast from the upper end
of the Laguna Madre below Corpus Christi to Pass Cavalla. The primary pur-
pose of these is to establish the location of the spawning grounds for both
trout and redfish and to determine the type of bottom, the amount of vegeta-
tion, and all other conditions affecting these, as well as the actual time of
spawning, wherever feasible. An interesting thing in this regard is that, while
it is yet entirely too early to draw any conclusions, there are a number of
indications that very small trout, less than a week old, prefer a clean, white
sand bottom, where there is a heavy growth of the marine plant Ruppia mari-
tima. This is very noticeable and, while found elsewhere, they are most plentiful
in this type of habitat.
Procedure has involved sampling by various methods at each one of the
stations and the keeping of meteorological and hydrographical records. It is
felt that, by this approach, and necessary variations upon it, it may eventually
be possible to determine the type and frequency of the areas necessary as
nursery grounds for the small fish and, by stomach analysis, what food they
utilize that may be different from that of the adults.
It may be found that the presence or absence of certain types of plankton
is necessary for the subsistence of small fish, and some physical, hydrographi-
cal, or meteorological factor may govern this. In this connection, it is necessary
to know whether there is any correlation between the turbidity of the water and
the available food for these immature forms. Has increasing turbidity of the
bays cut down photosynthesis to the point where they no longer produce suffi-
client food for the young, and is this a factor in the amount of trout and red-
fish present? Moreover, does this turbidity act as a feeding inhibitor on the
Gonad development is being studied on all fish collected and an attempt is
being made to correlate the spawning ages, length, and weight as closely as
these three factors can be correlated. This information is also being tablulated
by area, season, salinity, temperature, and any other pertinent methods.
A fish trap has been installed in Cedar Bayou, a shallow natural pass between
St. Joseph and Matagorda Islands. This trap is attended by one biologist and
a crew of fishermen. The main objectives of this work are as follows:
1. Time of migration of various species through the pass.
2. Magnitude of these migrations.
3. Examination of the gonads in order to determine spawning time and the
habits of fishes using the pass.
4. Size and age of fish and crustaceans using the pass.
5. Examination of the species involved to determine the food of the different
size classes and to establish the difference, if any, between the food of fishes in
the Gulf and the food of fishes in the bays.
7. A comparative study of the numbers of species utilizing the pass to endea-
vor to determine the value of such a pass in the replenishment of the population
of our bays.
8. By seine hauls or other necessary means in the same area, to determine
the population density and the species using different types of habitats such as
mud or sand bottom or oyster reefs. (This is important as it probably has a
great deal of bearing on the variations in productivity of the bays).
9. Hydrographical and meteorological studies will be made and every attention
will be given to determining, if possible, the actual volume of water inter-
changed by means of this pass, and the extent that this water affects the bay
area. In doing this it is proposed to utilize floating postcards for the accumula-
tion of data, like those used by Dr. Langlois and his staff at Put-in-Bay, Ohio.
10. After sufficient data have been accumulated by the use of traps and seines,
with no obstruction at the mouth of the pass, two subsidiary wire curtains are
to be installed in the Gulf, perpendicular to the shore, on each side of the pass,
to simulate jetties and to determine the effects of such jetties on the usage of
such a pass by fish and other marine life. It is also hoped that by trapping these
curtains at different distances from the shore, it will be possible to determine the
movements and migrations of the various species in relation to the topography
of the shore line.
It can readily be seen that the information gained in this manner at the pass
will correlate and amplify the study of the bays.
A third phase of the program depends upon the operation of the fish cleaning
table at the laboratory itself. This table, which was set up in 1948, has been
very useful. For the privilege of retaining the stomachs and accumulating
other necessary data, the staff will clean the catch of any sportsman or com-
mercial fisherman who brings it in. Signs scattered over the area inform every-
one of this fact and, during the past year, some fifteen or twenty thousand
fish have passed across the table. Costs have been very small, and the worth
of the data so accumulated has been great. Food, age, length, weight, and scale
information are the chief products.
The impact of the shrimp fishery is being studied, also. In actual practice the
laboratory trawler has been equipped with four different shrimp nets. One of
these is a regular 65' shrimp trawl as used on this coast in the commercial
fishery. A second 65' net is identical in all respects with the first except that it
has a Guthrie culling bag, developed on the east coast, instead of the regular
sack. Two other nets are used. These are of a type developed locally within the
last two years and are known as "Kite Nets." They are totally unlike the ordin-
ary shrimp trawl inasmuch as they have no lead lines, no cork lines, and no
bottom. These nets in operation have proved to be excellent over rough, soft,
or grassy bottom, consistently producing catches where nets of the regular pat-
tern cannot be used. They have another advantage, the difference in construction
causing them to act as culling nets, greatly reducing the percentage of fish in
Of the two nets of this type which are being used, one is equipped with the
ordinary sack, the other with the Guthrie culling bag mentioned above.
This part of the program will be carried on under actual fishing conditions,
the laboratory boat operating at the same time, in the same area, under the
same conditions, as the commercial shrimping fleet. Its purposes are as follows:
1. To determine the species of fish taken in the commercial shrimping opera-
tions and the ratio in numbers, size, and poundage of these species to the amount
of marketable shrimp obtained.
2. To determine the actual ratio of the various sizes of shrimp during the
various seasons to the marketable shrimp.
3. To determine the ratio of the poundage in unusable shrimp and fish to
the poundage of shrimp produced for market.
4. To determine the amount of trout and redfish, if any, taken in commercial
In connection with this part of the investigation, meal and oil analyses of the
various species will be made, and it is hoped also that it will be possible, a little
later, to conduct some experiments as to the possibility of utilizing the scrap fish
The Florida Mullet Research Program
CLARENCE P. IDYLL
Research Associate, Marine Laboratory, University of Miami.
IN A NATION ranking second in the world in the production of fish, Florida is
among the leading states. Only California, Massachusetts and Virginia landed
greater quantities of fish in 1945 (Anderson and Power, 1949). Of the food
fish caught in Florida, the mullet is the leading species.
Two varieties of mullet are recognized by the industry. These are the striped
mullet (Mugil cephalus) and the silver mullet (M. curema). Of these the former
is caught in greater quantities. Two other species may possibly occur in
the commercial catches but they are of negligible importance. These are M.
lisa and M. trichodon.
No continuous record is available of the amount of mullet landed in Florida.
Federal government statistics for the State are available for some years (Table
1) but statistical surveys have been made by the United States Bureau of Fish
and its successor, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, only at relatively
long intervals, as funds were available. Florida State law has required statistical
reports from the fishing industry since 1933, but even since then there is not
LANDINGS OF MULLET IN FLORIDA FOR VARIOUS YEARS
REPORT OF U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE
LANDINGS IN POUNDS
YEAR WEST COAST WHOLE STATE
1923 28,454,464 34,652,664
1945 26,715,600 34,527,900
a continuous record of mullet figures available. (Table 2). The State has never
had adequate machinery to collect complete fishery statistics, and the figures
obtained are recognized to be incomplete. It is therefore impossible to determine
from the landings whether the mullet fishery is declining. Taken at face value the
figures available would indicate that it is not. Opinions expressed by those con-
nected with the industry are contradictory, although the general consensus is
that the abundance of mullet is less than previously. Certainly in some areas
fishing is poorer than it was, and there is evidence that the maintainance of the
level of mullet landings has been due to increased fishing intensity and efficiency
of the gear. A decrease in the average size of the mullet has also been reported
from certain areas in Florida, notably along the north Gulf coast, west of St.
Due to a lack of research, the basic facts which are necessary for an evalua-
tion of the economic and biological status of the mullet fishery are not available
to guide its proper management. The program at present being undertaken by
the Marine Laboratory of the University of Miami for the Florida State Board
of Conservation is designed to provide these facts.
Among the first tasks is to attempt to secure better landing statistics, since
a proper evaluation of the present condition of the fishery and its future trends
LANDINGS OF MULLET IN FLORIDA, 1933 1948.
REPORTS OF FLORIDA STATE BOARD OF CONSERVATION.
YEAR SILVER MULLET STRIPED MULLET TOTAL
1933 33,915,350 *33,915,350
1934 33,915,350 *33,915,350
1935 26,163,452 *26,163,452
1936 26 163,452 *26,163,452
1937 no record
1938 24,516,620 24,516,620
1939 32,921,522 32,921,522
1940 33,718,807 33,718,807
1941 167,772 39,399,504 39,567,276
1942 666,828 55,766,115 56,432,943
1943 733,818 55,952 367 56,686,185
1944 14,533 39,657,603 39,672,136
1945 28,238 34,562,063 34,590,301
1946 36,889,793 36,889 793
1947 24,873 28,530,058 28,554,931
1948 8,890 35,662,695 35,671,585
*Average of two years.
cannot be made without trustworthy figures. The industry must first of all be
made aware of the need for such figures, since its cooperation is essential to
the success of a statistical system. A start has been made in this educational pro-
gram by the publication of a bulletin explaining the need and function of fishery
statistics. (Idyll, 1949a). We must now proceed to gather as accurate data as
is possible. The influence on increased fishing intensity and gear efficiency will
be studied in conjunction with the total landings.
The possibility of the existence of more than one population of mullet in
Florida is a second problem which we are concerned with. It may be that the
mullet caught in the southern part of the State are distinct from those north of
Tampa, for example, and these, in turn, distinct from the mullet of the north-
west coast. On the contrary, it is quite possible that all the populations inter-
mingle, moving from one area to another. The management practice will differ,
depending on which of these two situations prevails. For example, if the north-
western populations are distinct from the others, perhaps the prevalent smaller
average size in this region is a racial character. If the populations mix, this small
size may indicate an over-intensive fishery or one which is operating with nets
with too small a mesh. The implications to regulation are obvious.
This problem is being attacked by the most direct method, namely, by tagging.
For the present, morphometric racial analysis is not being carried out. The tags
being used are the Petersen or button tags. We have released 772 tagged mullet
up to the present time, at 10 different places on the Florida coast from Naples
to Destin. The tags have already shown us that the summer populations of
mullet do not move far, since the great majority of tags put on in July and
August were recovered near the place where the fish were released. Returns
from our October tagging are starting to come in and we will have a clearer
picture of the mullet movements as we continue the experiment.
The intensity of fishing is another aspect of the mullet problem and again
our tagging is giving us some information. A high intensity is indicated by our
returns from some regions (Table 3). Over 40 per cent of the tagged fish have
been recaptured from the Apalachicola tagging and high returns are shown for
No exact information is available as to the size and age at maturity of the
mullet constituting the commercial catch. Returning to the smaller average size
of mullet caught on the Florida coast from Pensacola to St. Marks, an im-
portant question arises as to whether these fish are younger than those larger
individuals caught in the rest of the state. The age composition of the catch is
RECOVERIES OF TAGGED MULLET
DATE TAGGED PLACE TAGGED NO. TAGGED No. RECOVERED PERCENTAGE
7-16-49 Cedar Key 80 7 9.7
7-18-49 Steinhatchee 84 3 3.6
7-20-49 St. Marks 87 12 13.8
7-22-49 Apalachicola 100 42 42.0
7-23-49 Port St. Joe 41 3 7.3
7-24-49 Destin 64 23 35.9
8-22-49 Punta Gorda 100 27 27.0
8-28-49 Naples 41 0 0
8-29-49 Cortez 51 12 23.5
10-25-49 Steinhatchee 83 4 4.8
11-9-49 Homassassa 42 0 0
773 133 17.2
likewise important in estimating the future abundance of the mullet. The age
of many fish can be determined by the markings on the scales, which are caused
by different growth rates at different times of the year. It has been widely stated
that the scales of fish inhabiting tropical waters do not have these markings.
We have collected large numbers of scales from Florida mullet, both from the
commercial catches and from tagged fish. A study of these scales is under way
to discover whether age can be determined from them. Marks are present and
we have hope that we may be able to relate these to the age of the fish.
The size at maturity of the mullet is not well known and this basic informa-
tion is being obtained. This phase of the investigation, as well as that dealing
with the size of mullet caught in various net mesh sizes, is reported in another
Different types of gear used in the mullet fishery are being studied. One re-
port on this has been issued (Idyll, 1949b).
Finally, the gaps in our knowledge concerning the spawning and early life
history of the mullet are being filled in as quickly as possible. The results of
all these studies should provide the basis for an intelligent management of the
mullet fishery, whose objective would be the stabilization of a high level of
ANDERSON, A. W., AND POWER, A. E., 1949, Fishery Statistics of the United States,
1945. U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Statistical Digest No. 18.
IDYLL, CLARENCE P., 1949a. How Can Statistics Increase the Catch? Univ. of Miami
Marine Lab., Ed. Bull. No. 3
IDYLL, CLARENCE P., 1949b. Stop Netting on the West Coast of Florida. Univ. of Miami
Marine Laboratory, Tech. Bull. No. 3.
Gear Studies In The Florida Mullet Fishery
JOHN W. SUTTON
Research Assistant, Marine Laboratory, The University of Miami
DURING THE PAST YEAR the Marine Laboratory of the University of Miami
has carried on a study of the Florida mullet fishery. This research was under-
taken because of persistent reports that striped mullet, Mugil cephalus, were
becoming increasingly scarce, and fear was felt that the industry would continue
to decline unless some corrective measures were taken. Investigations of fishing
methods and gear and studies of the life history of the mullet have accordingly
been carried out.
Fishermen and fish dealers, in an effort to explain the causes of the decline,
have condemned practically all methods of fishing for mullet on one ground
or another. Studies of various methods used in the fishery have been made,
with the charges against them in view.
The use of the gill net appears to be criticized less than any other. This net
is selective in the size of fish it takes, since fish too small to be gilled pass
through it, while fish too large to force their heads into the meshes usually are
able to back away and avoid being caught. This type of net is probably the
least efficient, especially when used simply as a gill net and not employed as a
seine. The only criticism made against gill nets is that so many of them are in
constant use that mullet have no chance to occupy an area without being dis-
turbed. In some areas along the coast so many fishermen are active that all
available fishing grounds appear to be occupied almost every day or night, and
doubtless each fisherman catches fewer mullet and has less choice as to where
he will fish, as a direct result. No harmful effects of this type of net are evident,
insofar as damage to feeding grounds or to small mullet is concerned.
The trammel net is a more efficient type of gear than the gill net, in that it
will take fish which are too large to gill so that the range of sizes of fish cap-
tured is greater. Small fish are able to go through this net. In some localities
this gear is used as intensively as the gill net, and draws the same criticism. In
addition, many fishermen claim that this net is destructive because it takes
such a range of sizes. However, the greater range is only in the direction of
larger fish and this net is no more destructive to small fish than is the gill net.
Many fishermen would like to abolish night fishing. They point out that dur-
ing the war, when night fishing was not permitted, there was great abundance
of mullet. This they attribute to the fact that mullet were permitted to rest and
feed unmolested during the hours of darkness. It is not known whether the
increased abundance of mullet in 1942 and 1943 was due to the curtailment of
night fishing or to a natural cycle in which the mullet population was at a peak.
Possibly a combination of these factors was at work. Not only was night fishing
curtailed, however, but there were considerably fewer fishermen exploiting the
mullet resources at that time, since many fishermen were in the service. Restric-
tion of fishing to the daylight hours, coupled with a decrease in the intensity of
fishing operations, may have contributed to the large catches per unit effort by
allowing time for the mullet to "bunch," thereby becoming easier to catch. In
other words, the ban on night fishing may not affect the population of mullet,
but it may have aided in making that population more available to the fisher-
The use of the flambeau, made by wiring a large bundle of rags or burlap to
the end of a pole, soaking it in gasoline, and igniting it, has been widely at-
tacked. Burning gasoline drips from the flambeau and spreads over the water.
Often more gasoline is poured on the water to increase the burning area. The
resulting conflagration is startling and frightens the fish. The flambeau is dis-
liked by all fishermen who do not use it. They claim that its use drives mullet
out of the area, that it causes a coating of oily residue to settle on the bottom
which destroys feeding grounds, and that it burns off the grasses among which
mullet like to feed.
Observations show that the flambeau does cause mullet to scatter, resulting
in many of them becoming tangled in the meshes of the net. It is doubtful,
however, if it causes the fish to vacate the area for any length of time. The
larger number of fish caught by this method than by the use of ordinary lights
should not be grounds for outlawing the operation.
The charge that an oily residue covers the bottom is groundless. There is
practically no residue left when gasoline burns, and what little soot or gasoline
may remain is quickly dissipated by the tide. When used in grass the flambeau
does scorch and doubtless kills much of the vegetation. In such an area it is
possible that the feeding grounds are affected to some extent. It has not been
determined just how burned grasses may affect mullet. At any rate, grasses are
temporarily damaged, and until it can be proven what effect this has on mullet,
this charge must be considered. A more serious charge can be brought against
the flambeau. It is exceedingly dangerous to the fisherman who uses it, and to
his boat. Furthermore, there constantly exists the danger that grasses and trees
on shore may be set afire and result in considerable property damage.
Stop-nets are the targets for much criticism by fishermen all along the coast,
and even many men who use them claim that they should be abolished. The
critics believe that "stopping" operations destroy feeding grounds because they
involve so much disturbance of the bottom. They claim that mullet will leave
an area that has been stopped and not return for days or weeks. It is charged
that stop-nets destroy many fish which are not used. The chief complaint is that
stopping operations spoil an area for fishing by the crews who come later, and
that they encompass too large an area.
Stop-netting was especially studied because complaints against it are so per-
sistent. Damage to the grounds was carefully noted and found to be exaggerated.
The stirring of the bottom caused by walking on it or dragging a small seine
over it is probably less than that done by choppy water and strong tides. Foot-
prints and other marks are usually obliterated on the next set of tides. The slight
churning of the bottom may actually be beneficial, serving to bring more nutri-
ment within reach of the mullet and the microscopic plants upon which they
The scarcity of mullet in an area that has just been "stopped" is probably
due to the fact that most of the resident fish have been removed, and it takes
some time to repopulate the area. The fact that a stopping operation has recent-
ly taken place can hardly be said to bar the entrance into the area of other
mullet after the tide has obliterated all signs of the operation, which is usually
within twenty-four hours. Mullet are very wary, however, and apparently avoid
crossing net marks and tracks of seines as long as they are detectable.
A stop-net effectively blocks the escape of all the fish within its compass that
are too large to go through its meshes. This usually includes a great variety of
fishes, many of which are of little or no commercial importance. Most of the
captured fish make their way into a deep area that is usually purposely included
within the "stop" to provide a gathering place. Some fish remain in shallow
water along the landward side of the net. Others are stranded in small pools
left by the receding tide. Usually very few are left high and dry. Some of the
stranded fish are destroyed by birds that are invariably attracted to a stopping
operation. Some others fall prey to raccoons and crabs. The numbers so de-
stroyed are small. The greatest destruction is by the fishermen, and it is willful.
They have good reason to dislike catfish, rays and porcupine fish, all of which
can inflict painful wounds, and their objection to sharks, crabs, and other crea-
tures which tear holes in nets is understandable. But their dislike of many fishes
stems simply from the fact that they must be removed from the net, and hence
are a nuisance. For these reasons many fishermen kill all fishes which are taken
in the nets, regardless of species. This habit justifies the charge of destructive-
ness levelled against them. It could be remedied by individual effort.
Stop-nets do cover large areas, it being quite common for several miles of
shoreline to be included in one operation. The gear also takes a greater percent-
age of the fish from the place where it is used than does any other type of
equipment, resulting in few fish being left for the fishermen who follow. Unless
other conservation methods fail, and it becomes advisable to reduce the pressure
on the mullet stocks by limiting the production of the fishery, the abolition of
stop-nets cannot be recommended on grounds that they are harmful to mullet.
Drag-seining is frowned upon by many because, it is charged, seines damage
the bottom and kill too many fish unnecessarily. Several types of drag-seining
operations have been observed, ranging from the use of small gill nets and gill
and stop-net combinations to heavy seines of almost a thousand yards in length
operated by twelve-man crews.
The seining operations were checked particularly for signs of bottom damage.
Some of the smaller seines were used over grass and mud bottoms. It was noted
that a small amount of grass and mud was brought up in each case, and most
of the grass that was brought up was dead. It was evident that the lead lines
passed over, rather than through, the grass and mud. These small seines were
pulled by the cork lines, so that the lead lines were slack and did not dig into the
bottom. The large seines were used over sandy or grassy bottom in each case
observed. There was some digging in of the lead lines, especially near the work-
ing ends, since both cork and lead lines were pulled, and a man "footed" the
lead lines at each end, thereby keeping them down. Even so, there was very little
grass in the nets, and sandy bottoms contained very little evidence of the seine's
passing. Those seines which were dragged ashore did bring with them a number
of so-called trash fish, and these were left to die on the beach in many cases.
While probably of little commercial consequence, the accumulation of dead fish
upon a beach following a seining operation creates the impression of wasteful-
ness and gives rise to justifiable criticism, especially from sportsmen, who may
not consider such fish as useless. Much of this destruction could be eliminated
by the simple expedient of returning unwanted fish to the water. The areas
where seines can be employed are limited. Oyster bars, mangrove roots, rocky
and uneven bottoms all curtail or prevent seining. For this reason, though seines
may be efficient where they can be used, they cannot affect a large percentage of
the feeding grounds of mullet.
The core of the problem lies not so much in the type of gear used or the
methods of its employment, but rather in the size of the mesh of all types of
nets, which governs the size of mullet taken. In order to ascertain what sizes
of fish were taken by various mesh sizes, a number of samples of mullet, caught
in nets of different mesh sizes, were measured throughout the past year. Also,
in order to determine the size of mullet at maturity, records of the lengths of
both male and female mullet which yielded roe or milt upon being stripped
have been and are being gathered. This latter work was begun late in the spawn-
ing season last spring, and has just recently been resumed as the new spawning
season is beginning. A larger sample needed before definite conclusions can be
reached upon the minimum sizes at which both male and female mullet are
mature. However, measurements taken so far indicate approximately what these
minimum sizes are. All lengths referred to are from the tip of the snout to the
fork of the tail.
From fourteen samples, three hundred and six sexually ripe mullet were ob-
tained, of which two hundred and seven were males, or "white roes," and
ninety-nine were females, or "red roes." The mature males ranged in length
from ten and one-quarter inches to sixteen inches. The females ranged from
eleven and three-quarters inches to nineteen and three-quarters inches. Approxi-
mately 87 per cent of the mature females were thirteen or more inches in length,
while less than 30 per cent of the males were as long as thirteen inches.
These results indicate that the males seldom reach maturity until they are
at least ten inches in length, while the females cannot be expected to mature
at a size much under twelve inches. It also appears that the mature females are
generally larger than the mature males.
Measurements of mullet caught in nets of various mesh sizes were made
during all seasons of the year, but most samples were taken during the winter
and spring months of 1948 and 1949. A mullet full of roe or milt, or heavy
with pre-spawning fat, will become enmeshed in a net which a spent or thin
mullet of the same length will pass through, so that at some seasons of the year
the average size of fish taken by any net will be greater than at other seasons.
During the spawning season, especially after the first month of spawning, there
are many spent mullet, or "spikes," in company with mullet still heavy with
roe, and the pre-spawning season mullet vary considerably in their condition, so
that it is difficult to determine when any one mesh size will take a larger or
smaller class of fish. The change is gradual, and for this reason there has been
no attempt to subdivide the samples into seasons. Any such division would be
arbitrary at best.
The entire catch of 103 fish was measured from an illegal 2 5/8 inch
stretched mesh. It was found that only 44, or less than 43 per cent, of the fish
were under twelve inches in length. Of nine samples, each consisting of the
entire catch of a 2 6/8 inch stretched mesh net and totaling 1460 mullet, 912,
or over 62 per cent, were under twelve inches in length. Two samples of fish
captured by 2 7/8 inch stretched mesh nets, a type seldom used, contained
174 fish, of which 92, or almost 53 per cent, were under twelve inches. Fifteen
samples taken from 3 inch stretched mesh, and totaling 1728 fish, contained
862, or approximately 50 per cent, mullet under twelve inches. Of seven samples
measured from landings of 31/4 inch stretched mesh nets, and numbering 795
fish, 237, or less than 30 per cent, were under twelve inches. One sample was
obtained from a net rarely used at Cedar Key (where all samples were taken)
of 3 7/8 inch stretched mesh. This sample consisted of 86 fish, all of which were
twelve or more inches in length.
The legal minimum size limit on mullet for the state of Florida is now 10/2
inches. This permits the taking of fish, especially females, which are too small
ever to have spawned. In some counties the minimum limit is further reduced.
Levy County permits the taking of ten-inch mullet, and in the area west of the
Aucilla River the limit is eight inches.
Fifty-one market samples (samples measured without regard to type of gear
used in their capture, and selected at random) included a total of 7,049 mullet;
3,496, or almost 50 per cent, of these were under twelve inches in length.
It would appear, therefore, that the fishery is at present taking many mullet
before they are allowed to mature. Further study is necessary before recom-
mendations can be made as to regulations of size limits of fish or mesh sizes.
The Florida Sponge Industry
J. Q. TIERNEY, Research Assistant
C.E. DAWSON, JR., Technician
Marine Laboratory, University of Miami
ALL OF THE NATURAL SPONGES produced in the United States come from the
coastal waters of Florida.
In past years sponges occurred in commercial quantities all along the coast
of Florida from Biscayne Bay south to Key West and along most of the west
coast north almost to Carabelle.
An average of over one million dollars worth of sponges has been marketed
annually for the past fourteen years. In 1943, 1944, 1945 and 1946 the sales
of wool sponges alone were well over two million dollars per year.
Production declined sharply after the sponge disease of 1939-1940, and by
1947 the landings were markedly smaller. The University of Miami Marine
Laboratory, at the request of the Florida State Board of Conservation, under-
took in December 1947 a brief survey of the sponge grounds north of Anclote
Light in order to determine the condition of the sponge beds. Particular at-
tention was given to the deeper bars in from 16 to 22 fathoms. The results of
that investigation presented such a somber picture that the Marine Laboratory
was requested to survey to area north of the Dry Tortugas and west of Cara-
belle in an attempt to find new sponge beds suitable for commercial exploita-
tion, and to seek new sponges which might be of possible commercial value
but which are not now being utilized.
This survey was carried out in September and October of 1948. The first
part of the cruise covered the coastal area from Tarpon Springs south to
Florida Bay, past Key West, the Marquesas and Tortugas and north to Tarpon
Springs again. The second part of the cruise likewise began at Tarpon Springs
and continued north along the Florida coast to a spot offshore from Panama
The vessel used was the P. Kremasto, a Greek-type diving boat 42 feet in
length, equipped with a Bendix DR-3 supersonic depth recorder. A laboratory
bench was constructed in her waist.
Using charts of the region, stations were selected which showed as rocky
ledges or as coral reefs.
When the station was reached, the bottom was carefully charted with the
depth recorder, a buoy was placed at the center of the station location and the
bottom was tested with a soaped sounding lead.
The vessel then circled the buoy while surface and bottom samples of sea-
water were taken, and surface and bottom plankton tows were made. The
determinations for pH, temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen were then
carried out while the diver was being dressed.
The diver descended to the bottom and made a general exploratory dive,
taking a sample of the bottom deposits and collecting specimens of all the
bottom dwelling plants and animals. The biological specimens, when brought
on deck, were carefully sorted and examined for any signs of disease. They
were then tagged and preserved in alcohol for later, more detailed study
in the laboratory. If no commercial sponges were found on the first dive, the
vessel moved to a new location on the same bar and the diver again went down.
Each station was therefore covered by several dives at different locations
grouped around the marker buoy.
When commercial sponges were encountered, the diver worked the beds
under normal sponge diving conditions for a given unit of time in order to
determine the catch per unit effort at each sponge bar.
Twenty-two stations were worked during forty-three days at sea. Sponges
were found in commercial quantities only at two reefs which were already
known to the industry. Single specimens of bastard wire sponge were found at
two stations, and a damaged yellow sponge was taken at another station. This
was the only commercial sponge taken that showed signs of recent damage, but
many of the sheepswool sponges taken from the shallow water producing bar
had scars and evidences of old damage. The only other sponge ground that
showed damage was a non-commercial cup sponge, which is closely related
to the commercial sponges.
A joint survey was made in September of this year by the Marine Laboratory
and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in order to investigate recent reports
of sponge mortality in the region between Anclote Key and Saint Marks.
According to reports of the boat captains the mortality was first noted in
December 1948 in 9 to 10 fathoms off Pepperfish Keys. Damaged sponges
were observed in the Rock Island region in shallow water about the first of
June, 1949. Both hook boats and diving boats reported that within 20 days
virtually all of the sponges inside of 7 fathoms were dead or damaged. The
divers stated that all of the sponges in the 4 to 10 fathom range between
Cedar Keys and Anclote Light had been destroyed, and that between Cedar
Keys and Saint Marks 95 per cent of the sponges in this depth range had been
destroyed. Southwest of Anclote Key in 5 to 51/2 fathoms some damaged and
some live sponges were reported in May; in July one boat worked this area
and found no sponges, either alive or dead. According to the reports of the
sponge fishermen, this is the southernmost limit of the sponge damage.
The sponge fishermen agreed that the present mortality affects the sponges
in the same manner as the 1939-1940 disease. Wool sponges are more re-
sistant than are the grass and yellow sponges; non-commercial sponges and
some species of coral are also evidently damaged by the blight.
The survey on the Fish and Wildlife vessel Pompano indicated that a few
healthy sponges remain, but that numbers of damaged sponges (and coral
also) are present on the reefs. Several typical sponge bars were found to be
entirely devoid of commercial sponges.
There is no way to estimate the exact loss that has occurred since the blight
was first reported late in 1948. Results of this survey, when considered with
the results of the 1948 survey, indicate that the sponge population is at
present very low in the area investigated, and that most of the remaining
sponges occur in less than 4 fathoms.
Definite evidence exists that the recent sponge damage is the result of a
blight of some sort; whether or not it is the same as the disease of 1939-1940
will no doubt be determined by study of the diseased tissue by Dr. Galtsoff.
The entire Tarpon Springs sponge fleet is at this time at rest in its harbor,
and none of the captains plans to put out to sea in search of sponges. In the
past few months the vessels that have ventured out have not found enough
sponges to pay for the expenses of the trip.
So far in 1949 (8 months) $392,000 worth of wool sponges have been sold
on the Tarpon Springs sponge exchange. This figure, when charted with the
sales of previous years, continues the severe downward trend and is an indication
of the critical condition of the industry.
As a part of the 1948 survey many types of non-commercial sponges were
cleaned and tested in order to determine whether or not any were suited for
commercial uses. None was found to be satisfactory. Lack of water retention,
harshness or weakness of the fibers prevented the acceptance of any of the
Quantities of several types of non-commercial sponges were dried and were
submitted to biochemists in an attempt to utilize such sponges as raw material
in the preparation of manufactured goods.
It is apparent that a normal recovery of the Florida sponge beds is un-
likely to occur for a considerable time. The surveys conducted during the
past few years clearly indicate that there is no likelihood that the industry can
be saved by extending fishing in the waters of neighboring states, or by seek-
ing sponges in deeper water.
It is suggested that the only practical means of hastening the re-establishment
of the Florida sponge industry is by sponge cultivation. The type of bottom
required for sponge cultivation must be carefully selected in order to provide
a fairly smooth firm bottom, free from silting. Currents must not be exces-
sive, but the water must be unpolluted and should have a normal salt concen-
tration. There must be no danger of fresh water from rivers or streams en-
tering the sponge plantation. The water must be deep enough to prevent dis-
turbance of the bottom by wave action, yet shallow enough to allow planting
and harvesting of the sponges to be carried out without difficulty. Fortunately,
rather extensive regions suitable for sponge cultivation exist in the Florida
Keys and at a few places on the Florida Gulf Coast.
The technique of sponge cultivation consists of cutting the mature sponge
into pieces which are attached to cement discs, or to wires, stakes, etc., which
will support the cutting above the sea bottom. Care must be taken that the
sponge is not crushed when it is being cut, and both the parent sponges and
the cuttings must be protected from rainfall and other fresh water.
In the past century several experimental sponge plantations have been set
up. Early work in the Adriatic was halted because of the hostility of the
spongers and also because of excessive operational costs. Plantings made by
a Mr. Monroe in 1880 were instrumental in the presentation of a sponge cul-
tivation law to the Florida State Legislature. The law was not passed, and
theft, with other difficulties, ended the experiment.
H. F. Moore of the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries in 1901 set up and maintained
extensive experiments in Biscayne Bay and at Sugar Loaf Key. Cuttings were
placed on cement discs and on stakes supported by cement triangles. The
cuttings on the discs reached market size in about four to five years.
This cultivation experiments and the plantation set up for the Bahamas
government by F. G. W. Smith prove that it is entirely practical to culture
sponges if care is taken in the selection of the site and if proper methods are
used. There is now in operation at Pott Cay, Andros Island, a privately owned
sponge cultivation that is producing excellent sponges.
Plantations should be set up for the sheepswool sponge only. They are the
most valuable, and are also evidently more resistant to the sponge blight than
are the other commercial sponges. The very fact that it is cultivated makes
the sponge more valuable, because the surface of the sponge that is in contact
with the cement disc becomes very finely felted. This obviates the necessity
of trimming any irregularities from the "root" and also permits the sale of
cuts of this felted sponge for surgical and other demanding uses.
Although sponges cannot be grafted to produce a more desirable strain, they
can be selected for good qualities, and cuttings should be made only from
those sponges which possess all of the qualities of softness, water retention and
resiliency which are prized in a sheepswool sponge. It is probable that biologists
would be able to develop a fast growing and resistant strain of wool sponges
which would be of superior market value.
The establishment of a sponge farm is advocated both for the purpose of
providing stock for the depleted beds and for encouraging and aiding private
enterprise. It must be pointed out, however, that sponge cultivation is not a
get-rich-quick or sure-fire venture. It offers limited returns for an investment
and requires hard work to establish; in addition, it is subject to greater risks
than ordinary agriculture. The early failures were due to lack of experience
and knowledge. Any future plantations should be successful if they are pro-
perly located and operated, but the possibility of failure must be considered.
Some Considerations Concerning The Future
Of The Sponge Industry
Executive Secretary, The Sponge Institute
No ONE FAMILIAR with the facts will deny that the supply of genuine sponges
has dwindled to an alarming degree and that synthetic sponges have made
heavy inroads in the market places. The time has come when the facts should
be faced squarely. Adoption of this policy and adequate planning to rebuild
the industry may yet save it from exhaustion.
For every pound of sponges derived from the domestic fishery in 1948,
over 13 pounds were produced in 1935, and for every pound of sponges im-
ported in 1948, in 1935 nearly two pounds were imported. In 1948 United
States imports were seven times domestic production. This rapid decline in
supply has developed certain marked results: (1) Prices of domestic sponges
in some cases increased over 800 per cent, thus pricing them out of many
market channels; (2) This created a fertile field for the development of the
synthetic sponge industry, with the result that there has been a rapid expansion
of facilities for manufacturing of cellulose sponges in the United States and
the almost complete replacement of genuine sponges with the synthetic prod-
ucts in the European markets. French interests holding the Farben patents
are reported to have pushed the sale of synthetic sponges in France, the United
Kingdom, Italy and other countries, while Sweden is also manufacturing
synthetic sponges of excellent quality. (3) Only in those fields in which the
genuine sponge has exceptional advantages over the synthetic has the market
for the genuine sponge remained open.
From the foregoing it appears evident that (1) With improvements in
quality and the lowering of prices of the synthetic sponge, the channels of
trade open to the genuine sponge will grow narrower and narrower until the
level of demand will fall to one of insignificance; (2) Proprosed tariff increases,
if successful, would further reduce the supply and raise the price level of
genuine sponges. Such a procedure would benefit the manufacturers of cellu-
lose sponges, encourage improvements in their product and automatically reduce
the demand for genuine sponges to the vanishing point. (3) To change this
trend it is necessary to develop a program of fishery management of the
sponge areas to encourage their rehabilitation, rigidly enforce regulations pro-
tecting the undersized illegal sponges and develop methods of propagating
sponges on a commercial basis to augment the fishery harvest.
As confirmation of the extent to which cellulose sponges have displaced
genuine sponges, Dr. Richard Kahn, of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
has figures to show that during the fiscal year ending'June 30, 1948, the Bureau
of Federal Supply, Post Office Department, Army Ordnance Department, and
Navy stores purchased 44,446 natural sponges for $36,000 as compared with
329,000 cellulose sponges for $74,703. As a matter of fact, the Post Office
Department's purchases consisted only of cellulose sponges, and no natural
sponges whatever. It might be added that the government paid an average of
81 cents for genuine sponge while paying 22.7 cents a piece for cellulose, or
about 1/3 the cost of the genuine sponges. These figures indicate the futility
of trying to raise tariffs on genuine sponges and thus make it easier to
supplant the genuine with cellulose sponges. Such a policy would hasten the
demise of the industry. Instead, trade should be given every encouragement to
purchase sponges from all world production areas to maintain the demand
wherever it still exists. With the received reduction of duty on imports of
synthetic sponges from 60 per cent to 45 per cent ad valorem and a further
reduction in price through devaluation on currencies, it does not appear to urge
increasing the import duty on genuine sponges. One foreign manufacturer of
synthetics is said to be prepared to ship several million of these to this country
andd is only operating at about one third of his capacity.
It is now generally recognized that the supply of our natural resources-
soil fertility, forests, fisheries and game-is not inexhaustible. In fact many of
these resources, like the sponge fishery, are in grave danger of exhaustion. It
is now an established fact that these resources can be restored to productive
levels by the establishment of a suitable program of management. In the case
of the fur seals of the Pribilof Islands, pelagic sealing had reduced the stock
to about 130,000 animals by 1910. By the adoption of an adequate program
of management, that herd has been rebuilt to over 3 million animals, permit-
ting the largest annual kill in history. Not so many years ago the future
of the halibut fishery of our Pacific shores was a cause of grave concern. The
adoption of a continuing program of fishery management has restored that
fishery to former productive levels. Similar programs are being adapted to
various other fisheries. The Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission should
undertake the development of procedures necessary to establish a similar man-
agement program for the sponge fisheries. Certainly an industry of such
widespread national interest, an industry which has netted the sponge fishermen
of Florida as high as 3 million dollars a year, yielding a product of such unique
value to a number of our important industries, is worth saving. Immediate
steps should be taken to develop such a program. This Institute should give
consideration to the establishment of an International Sponge Commission
for dealing with the development of a fisheries management program for the
sponge fisheries of the Bahamas, Cuba, and the United States. Such a com-
mission should be able to develop a program for stabilizing and placing the
industry on a sustained yield basis.
In line with the foregoing suggestion, it should be remembered that Great
Britain interested herself in the development of a plan of cultivation which
was well on the road to commercial success when the blight of 1939 hit the
Bahamas. Such a Commission could concern itself with attempts to safe-
guard the industry against repeated attacks of this kind. Dr. F. G. Walton
Smith was one of the foremost leaders in the Bahamian development and
should therefore be in a good position to evaluate the potentialities of such
a program, if he can make a careful study of this proposal.
Sponges can be cultivated. The next step is to demonstrate that the venture
is sufficiently practical to .enlist private capital.
The greatest deterrent to a more important branch of trade is the relatively
small size of the sponge industry with resulting high prices. Obviously if we
could increase production and lower prices we would improve the competitive
situation in relation to synthetic sponges.
It is a well established fact that the Japanese were cultivating sponges in
the Marshall Islands before War II. Dr. W. M. de Laubenfels, who made an
extensive study of the sponge situation in American Trust Territory this past
I am confident that if a good return is forthcoming to the natives,
that a very considerable source of supply can be developed over the
next five years from the Trust Territory. It is comparatively easy to
culture sponges there in large quantities, perhaps as many as twenty
thousand to an acre. The waters in the lagoons of the atolls are
policed effectively by the natives who live around the atoll, so there
is not the trouble of stealing which in some parts of the world in-
terferes with artificial cultivation. The natives have the requisite skill,
and partly from Japanese teaching and partly from what I have
shown them, are ready to go ahead. (From letter of October 3,
Unfortunately, based on specimens submitted to the Sponge Institute, the
cultivated sponges of the Marshall Islands do not appear to possess high com-
mercial value. The question which comes to mind is: Would high quality
commercial sponges, such as sheepswool, transplanted to these waters, re-
produce high grade commercial sponges? Studies are in progress to determine
the practicability of transplanting sheepswool or other desirable species from
the West Indies to the Marshalls for determining whether they would grow and
produce quality sponges. Fortunately Dr. de Laubenfels, in a letter dated
October 31, advises that he was able to move live sponges as much as 200 miles
to be used for cuttings, "and these are growing rapidly and healthily. There
is good evidence that now I know how to move them." It therefore appears
desirable to attempt such a venture. Dr. de Laubenfels' work was conducted
under the auspices of the Pacific Science Board, comprising the National
Research Council and the U. S. Navy, which provided excellent facilities.
In summary: The annual production of genuine sponges has sunk to such
a low level that they are rapidly being replaced by synthetic products which
are much cheaper in price, that under such circumstances the arguments
favoring increased tariffs on imports of genuine sponges are specious and
would merely lead to the more rapid displacement with cellulose and other
synthetic sponges. If consumers, especially those who find no acceptable sub-
stitute for the natural sponge, are to retain their interest in the genuine article,
they must get the supplies they need. Every possible effort must be made to
provide a sponge fishery management program, to stabilize production and
assure a sustained yield. This should be supplemented by encouraging the
cultivation of sponges on a commercial basis. If a constant source of supply
is to be assured it may be found desirable to transplant high grade sponges
to other areas.
Some Possibilities for Fisheries Development
in the Gulf of Mexico
HAROLD VAGTBORG, President
Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas
THE DIVISION OF OCEANOGRAPHY of the Southwest Research Institute was es-
tablished only a few months ago after long consideration and study
as to whether or not an independent not-for-profit institution of this character,
dedicated to the economic advancement of the states of the Southwest, and the
nation in general, could contribute to the development of the Gulf of Mexico
as a great asset to the nation. Recommendations came from every direction
that this field should be entered because there is so much to be learned, and
because the other activities of the institution relating to production of food,
of petroleum, and the processing of natural resources are so closely related to
this effort. The Division of Oceanography is confident that through scientific
research and development it will be able, along with other institutions, to im-
prove the usefulness of the Gulf of Mexico for the benefit of the public and
at the same time enhance the opportunities for close collaboration among the
various industries and sciences that want to take advantage of this great asset.
The great nutritive values of Gulf waters are widely recognized, partly
brought about by the draining into them of major rivers. The problem of
diminishing soil nutrients on agricultural lands is certainly not a problem
that exists in Gulf waters. The Gulf offers an. ever increasing opportunity
as a major source for human and animal food.
In addition, the Gulf is the "meeting place of all sciences" and through an
understanding of its actions it is possible to learn about the formation of
sediments, such an important factor in the geological sciences, its abilities and
limitations to absorb land wastes, its action on shore and offshore structures,
and its effect on climatic conditions, both here and in other parts of the world.
The Gulf is unusual in that it is one of the few bodies of water in the world
that has a continental shelf of the character that gives us a great expanse of
relatively shallow, saline, and warm water the year around. Any water area
on or adjacent to the United States that can produce at least two times as
much plant life as the best agricultural lands is certainly something to look
into. The large numbers of papers on the subject of products from the sea
presented before the recent United Nations Scientific Conference on the Con-
servative Utilization of Resources definitely shows exciting possibilities.
It is possible that the people of the Gulf Coast states do not sufficiently
realize the potentialities of this asset, and believing that the petroleum industry
is the only group that has a stake in the matter, may have been somewhat
indifferent in fighting for the sovereign rights of their states and their own
heritage in allowing Federal control to develop to its present controversial
The fishing industry is under discussion here, and it may be because some
Texans are better cattlemen than they are fishermen that some rather un-
orthodox fish industry methods have been suggested there. Sufficient investiga-
tion has already been made to justify the feeling that fish can not only be
ranchedd" but can also be "herded." It is recognized, of course, that normal
types of ranch fencing are impossible in Gulf waters for the reason that any
activities in the Gulf must give right-of-way to ships. At the same time it
is recognized that if fish can be fenced in much as cattle are, not only can
their movements be controlled, but control can be exercised over the raising
of various varieties and various sizes. In one area one-year olds could be
penned and in the adjoining area two-years olds. In other areas, similarly,
other species of varying ages and so on.
The "fencing" problems leads to the realization that devices must be
restricted to those that can be used on the floor of the Gulf and of a character
that will not obstruct the movement of ships. These devices could be in
reality "corner posts" located at a quarter or half mile intervals, providing
blocked off areas for the control of the movement, and retention of fish,
provided that some invisible and non-metal "fence" can connect these devices
and thereby create what might be called "fish pastures." This, of course, limits
possibilities to directed electronic or other rays of a type which, if arranged
to create fencing comprising a very narrow band of an environment highly
objectionable to the fish, would keep them in control. Work already done,
and in some cases applied, with various devices for highly localized control of
fish, shows that when they get into certain electrically charged zones, they
appear to have no faculty for knowing the source of their discomfort and are
as likely to go in one direction as another. Investigations have already shown
that there is almost as much likelihood of their going through the experimental
zones as there is of their backing out. Therefore, it becomes essential that an
exhaustive study be made on the response of fish to various types of environ-
ment and inexpensive ways found to restrain them within the "water pastures."
In this connection, Southwest Research Institute has developed a cooperative
arrangement with the American Institute of Radiation at Belmont, California,
an organization which has been conducting exhaustive studies on fish reaction
to various environments. In the past months, this program has progressed to
the point where there is increasing promise of being able to herd and ranch
fish in the future, and the Division of Oceanography plans to extend this basic
work into large water areas.
The American Institute of Radiation is fast becoming a national center in
the use of rays and radiation of all kinds, and some other exceedingly interest-
ing work is being conducted there. One point of particular interest to the
fishing industry is a new sterilization method which has much promise of being
of great value in fish packaging and marketing.
"Fenced-in" fish must have food in addition to that available in the normal
water environment, at least during certain times of the year and particularly
at certain periods in their growth cycle, and the American Institute of Radia-
tion has also been studying this phase of the problem. Their present work is
limited to fresh water operations but the Southwest Research Institute oceanog-
raphy division expects, in the reasonably near future, to extend this work in
the saline Gulf waters. It is interesting to note that there is a great similarity
between the types of food that are attractive to hogs and those attractive to
fish. Certain feeds accelerate their rate of growth just as fertilizers speed the
growth and size of agricultural harvests. Reports will be given to the industry
from time to time as to the progress of this program. Drastic as some of these
ideas may seem, it is by the process of reorientated approaches that major
problems are often solved.
Some of the other projects in the field of oceanography are not as unorthodox
as the fish program. A developmental project is under way for the utilization of
algenates in combination with hydrocarbons that result in "solid gasoline"
pellets comprising approximately 96 per cent gasoline and four per cent algenate
-a new form of non-explosive fuel. Algenates not only have extensive
applications in our food industry, but are finding uses in other industries, where
they have advantages due to the peculiar characteristics of the material.
The effect of industrial wastes on fish and marine life is a major project
that has been in progress for over a year and is sponsored by the Celanese
Corporation of America. Already a great wealth of information has been
developed on the effects of various types of chemical waste products on a
variety of fish types, and in due course this material will be published. Other
phases of the problem of industrial wastes and their effects on marine life, both
in fresh and salt waters, are being studied.
Work being done for the petroleum industry is concerned with the effect
of geophysical exploration methods on fish life, and a method is in process which
has the promise of minimum harm to fish life, although it must be further
proved that it has value as a geophysical exploration tool over water areas.
The Division of Oceanography and Meteorology is in the process of distribut-
ing its first publication, entitled "Bibliography on Offshore Petroleum Develop-
ments," by Emory N. Kemler, which is available for distribution.
Chairman-J. MAYNARD KEECH, Professor of Management,
University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida.
The Caribbean Crawfish Industry And Its South
R. A. KAHN
Branch of Commercial Fisheries, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
1. The Crawfish Production in the Caribbean Area
PRODUCTION FIGURES are sporadic and derived from sources which are highly
incomparable and in any event have to be brought to a common denominator
so as to permit a sound judgment. In some cases only export data are avail-
able, as published in the Yearbook of Fishery Statistics, 1947 by the Fisheries
Division of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. The
production of spiny lobsters in the United States is mentioned in the recent
publication of Chace and Dumont as 463,000 pounds landed weight on the At-
lantic coast and 513,000 pounds landed weight on the Pacific coast. Both pro-
duction figures refer to the year 1944. For 1945 we have a production figure
6,700,000 pounds for Cuba. For 1947 the following production figures are
Mexico 3,000,000 lbs. (estimated)
Bahama Islands 1,400,000 Ibs.
Br. Honduras 700,000 Ibs. (nearly all were exports)
Guatemala 200,000 lbs.
The total production on the basis of the foregoing figures for the Caribbean
area, including Florida, is 12,463,000 pounds. However, there are reports
that the spiny lobster is being produced in other areas of the Caribbean Sea
also. Mr. A. R. Facey reports for 1942 for Jamaica, "I am of the opinion that
these (crawfish) can be taken in certain localities off the South Coast of the
Island in large quantities."
For the Dominican Republic it is reported the production of "Langosta"
decreased from about 80,000 in 1921 to 23,000 in 1940 and then increased to
41,000 pounds in 1943.* Hopes for the development of this lobster industry
are indicated by the report of Mr. Goodwin, First Secretary of the Embassy,
of June 25, 1949, concerning the establishment of the "Compania Pesqueria
Dominicana C. por A." He states, "The contract of the Dominican Fisheries
Company indicates that the principal interest of the promoters will be in exports
of shrimp and lobsters (Langostas)."
A recent oral report of Mr. Robert Smith on Venezuela indicates that there
are enough spiny lobsters to permit commercial exploitation there. One boat
caught about 16,000 pounds per month, equivalent to 192,000 pounds
per year. The total production for Venezuela is estimated to be about 1,000,000
pounds per year. A report on Colombia, published by the "Instituto de Fomento
* Report Augal Rafael Merraro of May 27, 1946.
Industrial" in 1942, indicates that Langostas are among the most important
fishery products in Colombia. It is reported that on the island San Bernardo
alone the production can easily be 10,000 pounds per month. Canned lobster
meat is offered on this island in commercial quantities. In the region "from
Punta De Don Diego to Tanganga" also an abundance of "Langostas" is re-
ported. It is said that in the market of Tanganga 200 pounds of Langostas
are sold monthly. The reason for the lack of commercial exploitation seems
to be mainly the aversion of the native population to eating the meat of spiny
lobsters. A report of Fiedler and Jarvis concerning the fisheries of the Virgin
Islands also mentions spiny lobster fishing as one of the activities of the
Jarvis in his report on Puerto Rico fisheries also mentioned spiny lobster
fishing as a part of the local fishermen's activities. Quantities are not men-
tioned in this report. However, Mary J. Rathbun in the publication "The
Brachyura and Macrura of Porto Rico" of 1899 mentions that spiny lobsters
are very abundant in Puerto Rico and in other parts of tropical America.
Summarizing the reports from the Caribbean area, it can be stated that the
abundance of fish is such that the American imports, which were about 15,000,-
000 pounds (landed weight), in 1948, could easily be covered by the Caribbean
production alone. A total production up to 60,000,000 pounds is considered
possible by persons who have fishing experience in Caribbean waters.
2. Methods of Produetion
In the Bahamas, fishermen bring their catch into Government weighing
stations in small boats in which the lobsters are kept alive under damp sacks
or in live wells. At the weighing stations they are maintained in live cars or
kraals until licensed buyers arrive in their boats. The kraal consists of wooden
s'at boxes floating in the sea. With a good tidal current to keep the water fresh,
the lobsters will live for a week. If not overcrowded, and if supplied with
conchs or fish heads for food, and if dead lobsters are removed, they will live
several weeks. The buyer usually ships the lobsters to Miami, Florida, alive
in damp sacks, or as tails, removed from the body and packed in ice. When
shipped alive in jute sacks, they must be kept damp with sea water and well
ventilated in order to prevent a rise in temperature. The tails, when separated
from the body and iced, will keep fresh much longer. Until 1946, the largest
buyer in the Bahamas operated a central plant for canning and freezing on one
of the Islands and dispatched collecting boats with ice stores to the weighing
stations. Canned meat and frozen tails were shipped to Florida. Today small
quantities are being shipped by air.
In Florida, the lobsters are brought in alive by motor vessels and small boats
to fish houses where they are placed on ice. Those in the best conditions are
delivered immediately to retailers and restaurants. The remainder are boiled
and returned to cold storage for holding or shipment to other states.
Cuban lobsters are taken by motor vessels mostly owned by outfitters or
packers and leased to the fishermen. The owner receives 20 to 25 per cent of
the catch and contributes to the fishermen's retirement fund. The catch is
brought direct to the packing and canning houses. About 16 per cent of the
catch is consumed in Cuba, approximately 22 per cent is exported as frozen
tails, and the remaining 62 per cent is exported as canned tails. Only a small
part of the catch is exported as cooked and refrigerated whole lobster.
The British Honduras industry has only recently produced any significant
quantity for export. During 1936 and 1937 an attempt was made to can
lobsters, but this failed owing to insufficient supplies. During 1946, however,
the master of a refrigerated vessel from the United States began to organize the
fishermen and to ship deep frozen tails to Miami. As a result, the exports have
begun to assume some importance, and the fishermen have been stimulated to
greater endeavour and production. A second refrigerated vessel began work
during the 1947 season shipping frozen tails by air to New Orleans. This has also
brought about increased production, and has been instrumental in persuading
the fishermen to use the more efficient trapping methods. Apart from this, small
quantities have been exported at various times to Guatemala and to Tampa,
but only recently has the steady market developed.
3. Methods of Transportation and Processing
The most primitive method of transporting lobsters is in the living state.
Lobsters removed from the kraals are placed in jute bags and stored in the
hold of the vessel. For trips of more than 24 hours duration it is necessary to
dampen the bags with seawater from time to time. Dr. F. G. Walton Smith
recommends the following procedures: "Sacks should be placed upon racks in
order to allow ventilation and to prevent undue weight falling upon the bottom
layer. It is important to provide adequate ventilation, since a rise of tempera-
ture may easily destroy the whole cargo.
"Since dead crawfish deteriorate rapidly, it is preferable to detach the tail,
while the animal is still alive, and to pack alternate layers of tails and ice. This
method results in a great reduction of spoilage, although it does not provide a
product comparable to deep frozen tails.
"Deep freezing is far more satisfactory, and, so long as certain precautions
are taken, the product may be eaten after six or seven months' storage without
any loss of freshness. For deep freezing the tail should be removed from the
body, since the remainder is not used and unnecessarily increases freezing and
transportation costs. The tail weighs approximately /4 to 1/3 of the whole
body. Before freezing the intestine is pulled out and all loose skin removed.
Dehydration is prevented by leaving the tail in its shell and by dipping it into
clean seawater before freezing. This produces a glaze, which effectually retards
loss of moisture. The glaze should be renewed after two months in storage.
"The initial freezing should take place below minus 100 Fahrenheit, and
after freezing the tails should be held at a temperature well below 10 Fahren-
heit, preferably below 0 Fahrenheit. Precautions must be taken against thaw-
ing during prolonged periods of transportation, since the oxidation processes
resulting in staleness are apt to occur at higher temperatures."
The canning procedure is the following: The crawfish are first inspected for
freshness and are weighed. They are then cooked in steam retorts, after which
the meat is separated from the shell and non-edible portions and is packed in
cans, either with or without parchment lining. The cans are then closed, steri-
lized, cooled, labelled and packed.
Dr. Smith gives the following advice to canners: "It is important throughout
to adhere to high standards of cleanliness, since the flesh of lobsters deteriorates
very rapidly at normal temperatures. The time between receiving the live fish
and canning it must be reduced to the minimum, and there is no magic which
will transform lobsters already beginning to deteriorate when received into a
good product. Only live lobsters should be accepted."
4. Prices of Caribbean Crawfish
The prices of Caribbean crawfish cannot be fully represented by the prices
of spiny lobsters at the fishermen's level as reported by the United States Fish
and Wildlife Service. Prices paid in Florida are noticeably higher than prices
paid on the Caribbean Islands and lower than the prices paid in California. This
is exemplified by Tables 1 and 2. Table 1 shows the production and value of
spiny lobsters in the United States 1939 1947 and in Florida 1939, 1940 and
1947. The last two columns of the table show the price per pound at the fisher-
For 1941-44 inclusive no survey was made in the South Atlantic and Gulf
Area and the 1940 figures were used in these years for this area. For 1946 and
1947 no survey was made in the South Atlantic and Gulf Area and the 1945
figures were used in these years for this area.
Table 2 shows the price paid to Cuban fishermen for live spiny lobsters for
the years 1932, 1936, 1940 and 1946.
SPINY LOBSTER PRODUCTION, VALUE AND AVERAGE PRICE PER
POUND AT FISHERMEN'S LEVEL IN U.S., 1939-1947
PER LB. (CENTS)
Fla. only Fla. only Fla. only
1939 1,649,000 359,200 232,000 24,382 14.07 6.8
1940 1,560,000 463,500 201,000 31,501 12.88 6.8
1941 1,769,000 234,000 13.23
1942 632,000 73,000 11.55
1943 762,000 125,000 16.40
1944 976,000 168,000 17.21
1945 1,256,000 273,000 21.74
1946 1,469,000 392 000 26.68
1947* 1,370,000 777,100 347,000 157,427 25.33 20.3
PRICES PAID TO CUBAN FISHERMEN FOR LIVE SPINY LOBSTERS, 1932, 1936,
1940 and 1946:
1 II III
For Cents Value of material of Raw
60 lbs. Per Lobsters used in one Pound
Year Paid Pound* Frozen Tails** (Cents)
1932 .80 1.3 3.9
1936 1.35 2.2 6.6
1940 2.25 3.8 11.4
1946 4.50 7.5 22.5
* I divided by 60. **II multiplied by 3.
EXPORT PRICES OF CUBAN LOBSTER MEAT (RAW) IN TRADE WITH U.S.
I II III IV
Export Price per Price per
Quantity Value Kilogram* Pound**
Year Exported (Dollars) (Cents) (Cents)
1938 77,708 $ 25,417 32.7 14.9
1939 83,781 32,805 39.1 17.8
1940 122,576 43,642 35.6 15.3
1941 430,485 139,015 32.2 14.6
1942 112.581 39,755 38.5 17.5
1943 163,656 79,035 48.5 22.0
1944 222.682 95,264 42.8 19.5
1945 117,988 40,808 34.6 15.2
* II divided by I. ** III divided by 2.2.
Table 3 shows the prices which were received by Cuban wholesalers who
exported raw lobster meat to the United States. In 1940 the margin between
the price paid to the fishermen for raw meat used in one pound frozen tails and
the wholesaler's price was 3.9 cents or about 34 per cent of the fishermen's price.
It may be interesting to note the margin which seems permissible in the freezing
and selling of Cuban lobsters.
Wholesale prices for Cuban canned spiny lobster may be seen from Table
The prices published by a large wholesaler in Chicago for Cuban lobster
tails in 1949 are shown by Table 5. These are high under every possible consid-
The prices documented by Bahamian exporters are shown in Tables 6 and 7.
5. Production of Spiny Lobsters in South Africa
The crawfish is third in volume of fish caught in South African waters, and
about 90 per cent is exported to the United States. Under conservation regula-
tions there is a legal limit or quota of 6,000,000 lbs. of crawfish tails which
may be canned or frozen annually for export. The Fisheries Development
Corporation estimates that the tail of the South African crawfish is on the
average 1/3 of the total weight, which means that the 6,000,000 lbs. export
quota involves a total catch for export of 18,000,000 lbs. of crawfish. A further
WHOLESALE PRICES OF CUBAN SPINY LOBSTER (CANNED)*
Year Pounds Sterling U.S. Cents Per Lb.
1932 6 40
1934 6 40
1936 6.50 43
1938 6.50 43
1940 6.75 45
1941 7.50 50
1942 10.15 67
1943 16.00 107
1944 20.00 133
1945 17.25 17.50 (17.38) 115
1946 17.25 21.50 (19) 127
*1932-1946 (per case of five-ounce tins or 15 pounds net).
PRICES OF CUBAN LOBSTER TAILS FROZEN, 1949.
3/4 LB. 1/2 3 1 6-8 oz. 4-6 oz. 4oz. 6oz. 1LB.
DATE SIZE EA. LB. EA. LB. EA. EA. EA. EA. EA. EA.
Feb. 21-26 10 lb. Pkg. .90 .80 .70
Feb. 28-Mar. 5 10 lb. Pkg. .94 .88 .78
Mar. 7-12 10 lb. Pkg. .94 .88 .78
Mar. 14-19 10 lb. Pkg. .95 .72
Mar. 21-26 10 lb. Pkg. 1.10 .95 .75
Mar. 28-Apr. 2 10 lb. pkg. .95 1.10 .75
Apr. 4-9 10lb. pkg. .95 1.10 .75
Apr. 11-16 10 lb. pkg. .95 1.05 .85
Apr. 25-30 10 lb. pkg. 1.05
May 2-7 10 lb. pkg. 1.05
May 9-14 10 lb. pkg. 1.05
May 16-21 10 lb. pkg. 1.05
May 23-28 10lb. Pkg. 1.05
May 30-June 4 10 lb. pkg. 1.05
June 6-11 10 lb. pkg. 1.05
Av. $1.10 $.94 $1.06 $.84 $.74 $.74 $.85 $1.05
BAHAMA EXPORTS CRAWFISH FRESH OR FROZEN
Year Pounds Sterling Dollars Per Pound
1939 703,000 5,486 22,136.01 3.1
1940 789,600 13,130 52,979.55 6.7
1941 929,712 13,407 54,097.25 5.8
1942 710,192 15,910 64,196.85 9.0
1943 695,520 40,861 164,874.14 23.7
1944 740,768 46,028 185,722.98 25.0
1945 1,816,416 77,694 313,495.29 17.3
1946. 1,229,648 43.281 174,638.84 14.2
BAHAMA EXPORTS CANNED CRAWFISH
POUNDS U.S. CENTS
YEAR CASES POUNDS STERLING DOLLARS PER LB.
1941 6,455 96,825 14,779 59,633.27 61.6
1942 12,428 186,420 25,173 101,573.06 54.4
1943 10,093 151,395 19,894 80,272.29 53.0
1944 2,498 37,470 7,800 31,473.00 84.0
2,000,000 lbs. of crawfish caught for the local market thus brings the gross
annual catch in South African waters to 20,000,000 lbs. In addition 5,000,000
lbs. are being caught off the shores of South West Africa.
The South West African crawfish grounds are being developed rapidly. They
lie for 45 miles along the coast to the north of Luderitz Bay from 5 to 25
The growth of the crawfish industry may be seen in the increase in annual
catch from 15,000,000 lbs. in 1932 to 25,000,000 Ibs. in 1947 and the growth
of exports of canned and frozen tails from 3,566,000 lbs. in 1924 to 6,000,000
lbs. in 1947.
An agreement has recently been concluded among local exporters of craw-
fish tails whereby this commodity will be sold through one channel and exporta-
tion to the United States directed to a single organization, the gross return being
pooled and averaged among exporters. The Fishing Industry Research Institute
has agreed to undertake inspection of frozen crawfish tails prior to export.
6. Production and Marketing Methods of African Spiny Lobsters
In South Africa large vessels and larger crews are used in lobster fishing
than in the Caribbean.
It is reported by the International Labor Office that the minimum wages of
fishermen engaged in crawfishing are the following:
Skipper 600 per annum
Driver 450 per annum
Crew 400 per annum
However, these minimum wages are mostly surpassed by the shares in which
fishermen participate in the catch. The shares are different in enterprises which
fish crawfish for freezing.
The canning firms supply the boats, gear and fuel. They guarantee fishermen
three pounds per month throughout the year whether there is fishing or not. If
the catch per month is not sufficient to make up the minimum, the firms stand
the loss. The shares are divided in the following:
1 Share to the Boat Owner
1 Share to the Engineer
2 Shares to the Skipper
1 Share to each Crew Member.
In freezing enterprises the skipper and the engineer are paid a varying re-
taining fee and a share in the catch. Shares are calculated as follows:
2 Shares for the Boat Owner
1 Share for the Skipper
1 Share for the Driver
1 Share for the Crew as a whole.
In 1948 about 25 million pounds of crawfish were landed at an approximate
value of $2,917,000. The average price on which the shares of the fishermen
were calculated was 11.6 cents per pound. The catching of the South African
lobster is done exclusively by a government subsidized association.
7. Prices of South African Lobster
Tables 8 and 9 show the unit price per pound of frozen lobster and of canned
lobster imported in 1932 1949 from the Union of South Africa. The average
price of frozen lobster tails was 65.2 cents per pound and of canned lobster tails
was 64.6 cents per pound. Since for freezing lobster tails about 3 pounds of
raw fish for 1 pound of frozen fish are needed, the raw material, in the case
of freezing, costs 34.8 cents, leaving a margin of 30.4 cents for freezing, storing,
handling, transporting, and importing.
QUANTITY, VALUE AND UNIT VALUE OF IMPORTS OF
SPINY LOBSTERS FROM THE UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA
Bureau of Census
IMPORTED IN U.S. FOR CONSUMPTION, JAN.- JULY, 1949
LOBSTERS NOT CANNED LOBSTERS CANNED
QUANTITY VALUE QUANTITY VALUE
LBS. DOL. LBS. DOL.
January 688,253 303,907 36,765 35,281
February 803,528 322,375 17,742 16,279
March 1,414,650 818,263 29,404 24,379
April 433,172 311,334 19,924 19,394
May 782,837 524,363 10,263 8,830
June 697,224 519,161 1,107 1,137
July 105,028 52,728 186,580 128,343
TOTAL 4,924,692 2,852,131 301,785 233,643
Av. Price per Pound 57.9 cents 77.4 cents
Source: Department of Commerce "United States Imports for Consumption of Mer-
chandise" various months.
For canning, about 4 pounds of raw fish are needed for 1 pound of canned
fish. The raw material costs to the canneries were, in 1948, about 46.4 cents,
leaving a margin of 18.2 cents for canning, handling, transporting, and import-
ing. Obviously, this margin differential has not changed in 1949 although in 1949
the average prices of imported lobster from South Africa have increased to 80.1
cents frozen lobster tails and 77.8 cents canned lobster per pound (see Table
10). In Table 11, average wholesale prices for New York in November, 1948
and average retail prices in eastern United States cities are mentioned. These
prices are especially interesting in comparison with Table 12, showing the
prices of Maine lobster on the producer and two distribution levels.
QUANTITY, VALUE AND UNIT VALUE OF AFRICAN LOBSTERS NOT
CANNED AND LOBSTERS CANNED IMPORTED IN U.S.
FOR CONSUMPTION JANUARY JULY 1949
LOBSTERS NOT CANNED PRICE PER
1949 QUANTITY VALUE POUND
January 34,900 $ 27,765
March 423,120 337,405
April 311,000 246,658
May 200,000 159,111
June 513,600 415,939
July .. ...
1,482,620 $1,186,878 80.1 Cts.
January 20,682 17,590
March 14,436 10,356
April 2,400 1,251
37,518 $29,197 77.8 Cts.
SOURCE: Quantity and Value obtained from "United States Imports for Consumption of
Merchandise" printed by the Department of Commerce for various months.
ESTIMATED AVERAGE VALUE IN U.S. CENTS PER POUND OF
AFRICAN LOBSTER TAILS AT DIFFERENT LEVELS OF
DISTRIBUTION NOVEMBER, 1948
at Exporter Average Price
Level from the U. S. Imports Average Whole- Average Retail
Union of South at U. S. Im- sale Price at Price in Eastern
Africa porter Level New York, N.Y. U.S. Cities
CENTS PER LB. CENTS PER LB. CENTS PER LB. CENTS PER LB.
November, 1948 45.31 79.52 1003 1203
1. SOURCE: Interpolated from F.A.O. Fisheries Yearbook 1947.
2. SOURCE: Bureau of Census.
3. SOURCE: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
AVERAGE VALUE IN CENTS PER POUND OF MAINE LOBSTERS AT
DIFFERENT LEVELS OF DISTRIBUTION NOVEMBER, 1948.
Average Wholesale Average Retail Price
Average Price to Price at New York at New York City,
Producer in Maine City, Nov. 15, 1948 Nov., 1948
CENTS PER LB. CENTS PER LB. CENTS PER LB.
November, 1948 42.7 78* 105*
SOURCE: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The higher price received for frozen South African lobsters is due to the
superior quality of the product. The lobster tails coming from South Africa are
individually wrapped in cellophane before freezing. They are graded into sizes.
The sizes are /2 lb. to % lb., % lb. to 1 lb., and over 1 lb. They are packed in
flat slat boxes holding 20 pounds each. The American market of South African
lobster is strictly controlled by the South African Rock Lobster Association,
Inc., 8 West 40th Street, New York 18, New York. The three grades of lobster
WEEKLY AVERAGE WHOLESALE PRICES OF AFRICAN LOBSTER TAILS*
FOR DIFFERENT SIZES AS INDICATED AT
FEBRUARY 21 OCTOBER 15, 1949
LARGE MEDIUM SMALL SHOWN
DATE (Dol. per lb.) (Dol. per lb.) (Dol. per lb.) (Dol. per lb.)
Feb. 21-26 .. ... ... 1.10
Feb. 28-Mar. 5 ... ... .. 1.10
M ar. 7-12 ......... 1.15
Mar. 14-19 ........ 1.15
Mar. 21-26 ...... .. 1.15
Mar. 28-Apr. 2 ... ... ... 1.15
Apr. 4-9 ... ...... 1.15
Apr. 11-16 ... ...... 1.15
Apr. 25-30 ... ... ... 1.15
May 2-7 ... ... ... 1.15
May 9-14 .. ... ... 1.15
May 16-21 1.15 1.10 1.05
May 23-28 1.15 1.10 1.05
May 30-June 4 1.15 1.10 1.05
June 6-11 1.15 1.10 1.05
June 13-18 1.15 1.10 1.05
June 20-25 1.15 1.10 1.05
June 27-July 2 1.15 1.10 1.05
July 5-8 1.15 1.10 1.00
July 11-16 1.15 1.10 1.00
July 18-23 1.15 1.10 1.00
July 25-30 1.10 1.00 .97
Aug. 1-6 1.10 1.00 .97
Aug. 8-13 1.05 .98 .95
Aug. 15-20 1.05 .98 .95
Aug. 22-27 1.05 .98 .95
Aug. 29-Sept. 3 1.05 .98 .95
Sept. 5-10 1.10 .98 .95
Sept. 12-17 1.10 1.00 .95
Sept. 19-24 ... 1.00 .95
Oct. 10-15 1.10 1.00 .95
AVERAGE $1.12 $1.05 $ .99 $1.14
- IN 20-POUND BOXES.
,SOURCE: "Morris Market Bulletins" furnished by Morris Fisheries, Inc.
graded in South Africa are reflected in the wholesale price in the United States
according to Table 13, which was made up on the basis of "Morris Market
Bulletins" furnished by Morris Fisheries, Inc.
8. Organization of the South African Lobster Industry
While the Caribbean spiny lobster industries operate nearly exclusively upon
their own capital and investment, the South African lobster industry is largely
supported by a government corporation, the Fisheries Development Corporation
of South Africa, Ltd. The Fisheries Development Corporation, the industry's
alternative to state control on the one hand and unregulated free enterprise on
the other, was established under the Fishing Industries Development Act (No.
44 of 1944) as a public utility corporation with a capital of 1 million (about
$4 million); its major purpose was to advise regarding the development of
South African fishing harbors in conjunction with the South African Department
of Commerce and Industries and the Railways and Harbors Administration, to
assist private interests in developing the industry along orderly and rational lines,
and to provide social improvements such as housing. Aside from such social
services, its major contribution has been in consolidating and unifying the indus-
try through such mergers as those discussed in this report.
The South African Government's Minister of Economic Affairs appoints the
Directors of the Corporation and the Parliament must approve investments of
funds. The Fisheries Development Corporation has in the past year been ad-
vising regarding harbor improvements in the Cape Province as well as conduct-
ing experiments in oyster culture at Knysna and establishing a Fisheries Re-
search Institute. Much progress has been made in extending housing and social
The "A" shares of the Corporation are used on a non-profit basis for social
services; the "B" shares are invested in existing commercial fishing firms to
obtain guiding but not absolute control. One or more representatives of the
Fisheries Development Corporation sits on the Boards of such firms; the Corpor-
ation handles social services and gives advice in exchange for returns on its
The Fisheries Development Corporation holds important financial interests
in the following fishing companies:
Lambert's Bay Canning Co., Ltd.
Stephan Bros. (Pty) Ltd.
South African Sea Products (Pty) Ltd.
Ocean Products (Pty) Ltd.
Laaiplek Fisheries, Ltd.
North Bay Canning Company
St. Helena Bay Fishing Industries, Ltd.
Southwest African Fishing Industries, Ltd.
Of these subsidiaries the following corporations are interested in the crawfish
or spiny lobster industry.
The South African Sea Products, Ltd. holds 80 per cent of the South African
crawfish export quota and thus controls 80 per cent of the export of frozen craw-
fish, the chief market for which currently lies in the United States. The com-
pany operates a large modern crawfish freezing plant, and a vitamin oil extrac-
tion plant utilizing shark livers at Hout Bay. Its major subsidiary companies,
resulting from a recent merger, are:
Stubbs Fisheries, Ltd., handling fresh fish at Capetown
Trans-African Fisheries, Ltd., at Hout Bay
Hout Bay Canning Company (1920), Ltd.
Swerling and Levin, Ltd., dealing in smoked fish at Capetown
Duikersklip Fisheries, Ltd.
The South West African Fishing Industries, Ltd., which is called SWAFIL,
operates through its subsidiaries a crawfish freezing plant, a crawfish cannery,
a reduction plant, a smokery and a small fleet of fishing boats, all at Luderitz
Bay, South West Africa; it was only recently formed to incorporate the follow-
Table Mountain Canning Co., Ltd., Conducting crawfish canning at Luderitz Bay.
Angra Lobster Cannery (Pty) Ltd., at Luderitz Bay
Cape Lobster Canning Company, Ltd., at Luderitz Bay
The Ovenstone Holdings is interested primarily in crawfish canning at Port
Nolleth in the Cape Province, but is presently expanding into pilchard canning
and reduction-possibly also tuna canning at Walvis Bay.
The merger of the above six firms involves the assumption by the Lambert's
Bay Canning Company of a majority interest in the remaining five. It is under-
stood that each company will retain its present name and registration.
Among the independents the African Fish Canning Company and the North
Bay Canning Company should be mentioned.
9. International Trade in Spiny Lobster (Caribbean and
The United States plays an important part in the international trade of the
Caribbean and the South African spiny lobster. As far as the Caribbean lobster
is concerned, nearly all exports go to the United States and the export is about
90 per cent of the total production. Of the South African production about one
half goes to the United States; about 10 per cent is consumed in South Africa
and the rest of 40 per cent goes to other countries, mainly to the motherland.
The following Table 14 shows the development of United States imports of
fresh, frozen, and cooked spiny lobster 1945 1948.
U.S. IMPORTS OF FRESH, FROZEN AND COOKED SPINY LOBSTERS
(WHOLES AND "TAILS")
COUNTRY OF 1948 % OF TO- 1947 1946 1945
ORIGIN LBS. TAL 1948 LBS. LBS. LBS.
Mexico 2,052,491 1,920,442 1,671,234 1,072,935
Br. Honduras 136,264 157,538 79,220
Bahamas 1,197,821 58.7 1,371,701 1,271,677 1,487,634
Cuba 1,150,792 425,201 250,100 353,881
Jamaica 7,150 53,376
Leeward Islands 2,085 13,587 3,500
Fr. W. Indies 7,040 7,004
Australia 514,290 97,482
New Zealand 30,410 29,256
U'n of S. Africa 2,657,178 34.3 2,236,780 2,564,345 433,600
TOTAL 7,755,493 100.0 6,314,281 6,847,080 3,348,050
SOURCE: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Table 15 shows the imports of canned spiny lobster meat in the United States
U.S. IMPORTS OF CANNED SPINY LOBSTER MEAT
COUNTRY OF 1948 %OF TO- 1947 1946 1945
ORIGIN LBS. TAL 1948 LBS. LBS. LBS.
Cuba 294,546 28.5 122,359 461,529 459,375
New Zealand 19,175 1.8 12,825
U'n of S. Africa 722,151 69.6 1,325
China 600 0.1
TOTAL 1,037,710 100.0 136,509 461,529 459,375
SOURCE: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The imports of both canned lobster on one side and fresh and frozen lobster on
the other side nearly doubled 1945 1948. While the imports of fresh and frozen
spiny lobster in this period from Mexico almost doubled and from Cuba about
tripled, the imports from the Union of South Africa increased about 600 per
cent. As far as canned spiny lobster meat is concerned, the imports from Cuba
1945 1948 decreased about 50 per cent while the imports from the Union of
South Africa increased about 700 per cent.
In the United States market Caribbean spiny lobster unquestionably suffers
great competition from South African lobster. The stronger competitive position
of the South African lobster is due to differences of quality in the shipped pro-
duct, and of packaging and marketing. These differences can be overcome by
the following remedies:
(a) Fishermen in the Caribbean area must receive a higher price to en-
courage a constant supply.
(b) In all production areas the spiny lobster has to be graded, and properly
(c) Transportation has to be accelerated and directed to central marketing
places in the United States.
(d) The Caribbean producers should establish a central sales organization
through which quality control can be properly handled.
(e) Abnormal margins between fisherman-producer on one side and exporter-
importer on the other side must be changed to more realistic margins based on
actual additions of value.
If new machinery is considered necessary for proper handling, especially grad-
ing and freezing, the question will arise whether some assistance can or should
be given under the Point IV Program of the President of the United States as
mentioned in his "Inaugural Address of 1949." Obviously fishermen in the
Caribbean Area need the "know-how" possessed by the South African lobster
industry. Whether climate, educational standards and ethnographical factors
permit the successful operation of an American technological mission to the
Caribbean is a question, the answer to which is a prerequisite beside the con-
sideration of the political situation in the respective Caribbean countries.
Trends In Fish Production And Marketing
D. Y. ASKA, Chief, Educational and Market Development Section,
Branch of Commercial Fisheries, Fish and Wildlife Service.
LIKE TRUE LOVE, the course of the commercial fisheries rarely runs smooth.
After combating production, man power, and material problems previously
inconceivable in nature, variety and magnitude during the war years, the fisher-
ies temporarily enjoyed the luxury of a seller's market. Unfortunately, that
condition no longer exists and the transition to a buyer's market has been prac-
Coincident with this change has come a very definite change in the food pur-
chasing habits of the American consumer. We have witnessed already a great
number of these changes, such as the definite trend toward increased concentra-
tion of populations in the cities at the expense of the rural areas, the increased
income and spending potential within the country, the introduction of self ser-
vice stores in the cities, the rapidly expanding use of frozen food cabinets in the
stores, speedier and wider distribution facilities, rural frozen food locker plants,
greater advertising activities in food lines, and the greater variety of foods that
Competing food industries are actively and earnestly striving for this domestic
market and it behooves the fishing industry to keep pace with these groups if
it wishes to maintain or increase its sales.
We may as well accept the fact that today Mrs. American Housewife is the
boss insofar as purchasing potency is concerned. Upon the attitude she has
toward seafood products largely depends the future destinies of the commercial
fisheries. More and more women are working, with the result that their time
is becoming more important and they do not use their kitchens as much for the
extensive preparation of food. The housewife expects more and more of these
duties to be taken over by the various marketing agencies. Products which have
been partly or wholly pre-processed help the housewife expedite her work in
the kitchen. Many such products are now available, and although they may in-
volve a higher cost per unit of nutritive value, the housewife is generally willing
to pay this additional cost insofar as her kitchen time is saved.
The fisheries have no monopoly on the protein food market, but they have
the advantage of being able to provide a greater variety of food items than
other competing groups. But because of this variety they have a more difficult
job of merchandising. There is a growing trend toward pre-packaging for self
service markets. While original developments in meat pre-packaging have been
done in the back of retail markets the trend now seems to be toward packaging
at the packer level. The fishing industry in some of the large centers has been
doing this for many years and in this regard is ahead of meats. Retail store
packaging of fishery products has not or cannot be expected to develop to the
degree that meats have, but nevertheless a trend of self service will require that
more and more packaging be done by packers of fishery products, particularly
in those areas where most fish are now sold either as they come from the water,
or very little further processed, in order to maintain or develop a place in
Direct contact with the consumer is being lost as the trend towards self ser-
vice grows. In this form of marketing it is important to realize that the house-
wife herself makes the final decision. The industry can play an important part
in her decision through advertising and sales promotion, particularly at the
point of sale. Every day scores of people buy their groceries and go without
purchases of fish because there is nothing informative or suggestive to stimulate
With pre-packaging, the type of package becomes increasingly important.
Today's shopper doesn't like to play "hide and seek." The product that quickly
shows its value at the point of sale appeals to today's efficient shopper. In
addition to reminding her what she wants to know about size, color, quality,
and price, it often reminds her of a need or suggests a use. Alert retailers
throughout the country are realizing more and more the sales power of visibility
and are prone to give better packaged products the preferred display spots, for
where the product is displayed plays an important part in its sales turnover.
Proof of the value of a neat, attractive appearance comes in a report concern-
ing the packaging of rice, dry beans, and peas which was made by the Produc-
tion and Marketing Administration of the Agriculture Department in 30 key
cities. Here is what they found: Grocery dealers increasingly prefer packages of
transparent film. The solid carton and craft packages seems to be losing popu-
larity to the window front or all cellophane types. One reason for merchant
preference for "see through" packages is the appeal to the consumer. It helps
sales to let the shopper see the product since she does a lot of buying on im-
pulse. Incidentally, the trend is to package much higher quality in the transpar-
ent packages for reasons that are obvious.
The fruit and vegetable industries, whose problems of marketing closely
parallel those of the fishing industry, have made effective use of dealer service in
promoting sales. Manufacturers of other products have also applied this practice
for many years. Increased sales and more satisfactory relationships have been
accomplished through dealer service. The importance of promoting new and
more efficient marketing techniques at the retail level to make clear to retailers
themselves the critical nature of their vital part in the marketing channel is
widely realized by agricultural interests. In order to maintain their competi-
tive position, fishery industries will also have to enter this field of retail and
merchandising education. However, they will have the advantage of experience
gained by various agricultural interests.
Actually, the fishing industry has opportunities which, if properly nurtured,
can assure it of markets of sufficient magnitude as to guarantee it greater secur-
ity. These are not, however, markets which can be obtained just by the ask-
ing. They will require development, and because of their very nature, results
will only be in relation to the efforts expended toward their development.
What are these markets? Where do they exist? And what processes must be
taken to cultivate them?
During 1950 more than one billion school lunches will be served under the
National School Lunch Program for which more than two hundred million
dollars worth of foods will be required. As of November, 1948, nearly eight
million children in 48,000 schools in the United States and its territories have
benefited from the Federally supervised school lunch program. If fish con-
stituted one-fifth of these billion lunches, the school program alone would have
required fifty million pounds (round weight) of fishery products during
1949. The importance of this field becomes even more apparent when one
realizes that if a desire for fishery products can be instilled in these children
during their formative years their purchasing plans will naturally include these
items when they mature and develop into the homemakers of this country.
A recent survey conducted by the Bureau of Human Nutrition and Home
Economics should also be of keen interest to all members of the fishing in-
dustry. This survey, conducted in 68 cities selected at random throughout the
United States, indicated that only 56.6 per cent of the families contacted used
fishery products in their household menus. If we assume that the present per
capital consumption of seafood in the United States is 11.5 pounds per year
(edible weight) the potential consumption rate, based on this survey, can be
increased by 43 per cent. This could result in an additional market for over
2.5 billion pounds of fish (round weight) per year. This not only exceeds the
present productive capacity of this country, but would also enable us to absorb
imports from foreign countries far beyond their present capabilities.
In addition, according to the Census Bureau, the population of this country
is increasing at the rate of one million persons every five months. Also, the
Census Bureau reports there were twelve million marriages in this country
between 1940 and 1946 and it is estimated that by 1950 an additional 6.7
million marriages will have taken place. By that date, 1950, better than 45
per cent of all marriages in this country will date from the period between
1940 and 1950. Most of these new homemakers have had little or no training
in the preparation of fish and shellfish and are constantly seeking ways to serve
tasty foods to their families. An effective consumer educational program could
well result in these new homemakers constituting additional purchasers of
To the credit of the industry much is being done. The current growth of
such items as the breaded and veined fantail shrimp, devilled crabs, and ready
to fry fish are good examples of what the future holds. The almost complete
change to frozen packaged shrimp is another. As a matter of fact, only one
shipment of fresh shrimp was reported as arriving in Chicago last year, and
of this two-thirds were later frozen. Crab meat dated prominently on the
can gives the consumer the feeling of quality security she needs. This same
dating feature also applies to fresh shucked oysters. She is also attracted
toward specialty items such as smoked shrimp, shrimp cocktails, etc., and it is
probable that the consumer will expect her shrimp to be deveined in the
future since she recognizes the advantages of deveining but doesn't want to
be put to the inconvenience of doing it herself.
Unfortunately, few of the southern fish take well to filleting. For that reason
it appears improbable that any large scale developments will take place in this
field. True, there will always be a market for the quality fresh and frozen
southern fish since the bulk of this catch is made at a time when the northern
fisheries are stagnated because of climatic conditions. However, this advantage
is slowly disappearing since freezer stocks of northern fish insure an almost
year around supply. Furthermore, as the consumer finds pre-processed foods
are available, she will be less inclined to buy the generally more expensive
southern whole fish. Actually, even the old standby and reliable southern
markets are handling and selling increased amounts of northern fillets at the
expense of southern fresh fish.
With this in mind then it appears only logical that fishery items pre-processed
and pre-packaged on the producer level constitute the future bright star of
the fisheries. With this transition, certain other economic conditions would
probably result. New plants, sanitary in operation, would be producing labora-
tory tested products. Plant employment could be more regular since raw
stocks could be frozen and held to fit the production line requirements. Prices
for raw stock could be better stabilized since over-production during high sea-
sons could be frozen and held. Definite trends along these lines are already
apparent. Improvements in the esthetic appeal of fishery products and manu-
facturing plants and localities in which they are situated, as well as the char-
acteristics of the products themselves, are being made but slowly.
As competition increases and the producer's margin is reduced, the industry
will probably find itself being forced to adopt more economical production
practices. Taking advantage of everything that is known about preventing waste
in processing plants can pay big dividends. Spoilage and waste can well be
given a greater share of the southern producer's attention. Scrap fish, caught
in connection with the vast shrimp trawling operations, offer potential sources
of raw material for reduction into fish meals and the recovery and condensa-
tion of solubles. In so doing, fishermen's incomes would be supplemented,
while processors could probably reduce costs of major profit items by utilization
of these present waste products. Among the products which might be profit-
ably extracted from the wastes are animal foods, protein hydrolysates for con-
valescent feeding, amino acids, adhesives, chemicals, drying oils, and chemical
products. Research in governmental and private laboratories is proceeding
along these lines and the time may not be too far distant before such wastes
will have many uses.
Truly the fisheries are at the merchandising crossroads. The fishing industry
has rarely been characterized by initiating outstanding advances in processing
and merchandising. Now, however, it is a matter for the fishing industry to
adjust itself to modern consumer demands and efficient operating practices or
find itself out-priced, out-packaged, out-retailed, and out-itemed from the
Packaging And Marketing Airborne Seafoods
SPENCER A. LARSEN
Professor, Business Administration and Director, Air Cargo Research,
Wayne University, Detroit
Consumption of Fresh Seafoods
AIR CARGO STUDIES at Wayne University indicate that people in this country
would like to consume an additional one-half billion pounds of strictly
fresh fish. A goodly portion of this 62 per cent increase above present con-
sumption could be achieved if improved methods of producing, cooling, pack-
aging, transporting and merchandising were employed to bring to market
in prime condition the products of the sea.
The United States can hardly be called a nation of fish eaters when per
capital consumption of fresh fish-as distinguished from processed fish-
amounts to only 6.9 pounds annually. Even with the inclusion of canned,
smoked, and salt fish and the sportsman's catch thrown in for good measure,
our annual per capital consumption of 14.8 pounds is not impressive. In
comparison with fish consumption in other countries the United States ranks
fourteenth among the nations although in production it is exceeded only by
Japan. Furthermore, this low national average consumption is by no means
evenly distributed. Fish is eaten most nearest its sources of supply. Resi-
dents of tide water states eat fresh fish well above the national average. The
states of Massachusetts and New York, for example, eat an average of ap-
proximately 13 pounds per capital.
As the distance between the consumer and the source of supply increases,
consumption drops off until we find seven West North Central states averaging
only 3 pounds per capital and Oklahoma and Idaho down to approximately 2
In general it may be stated that the feeble showing of fresh fish on the
American menu is due to poor merchandising and the adverse effect on quality
of existing methods of packaging, handling, transportation and temperature
The quality factor must be placed at the top of the list, for no amount of
smart merchandising or of consumer education as to the selection and pre-
paration of fish can atone for poor market quality.
Properly speaking, there is hardly such a thing today as a strictly fresh salt
water fish at inland markets. As a rule the "freshest" salt water fish served
in a midwestern home is 8 to 12 days old. Unlike meat, which requires a
period of aging and therefore gains in flavor and texture with the passage
of time, fish begin to deteriorate immediately upon leaving the water. Then,
too, throughout the period of storage, shipping and marketing in the con-
ventional manner, melting ice leaches out valuable minerals, proteins and flavor.
Few species retain their high sea flavor and freshness beyond six or seven
days. After that period of time they begin to develop stale odors.
Objectionable odors given off in the cooking of stale fish, or that remain on
the housewives' hands from handling, retard consumption and account for
some of the public disdain toward fish. Evidence of this is found in a national
advertisement that recently used a housewife's fish cooking dilemma as the
theme for its copy. In cartoon fashion this advertiser, one of the "good-air"
makers, presented the happy solution for objectionable odors that develop in
homes when fish are cooking. The advertisement pictured the housewife in
a gas mask saying "Guess I better spend the evening in my gas mask." Next
frame shows the fish cooking in an open frying pan on top of an electric
stove. At this point, hubby arrives on the scene holding his nose and saying,
"I used to think I liked fish-but phooey!" "I know, dear," said wife, "but
what can I do??" Meditating she says to herself, "I guess I just can't cook
fish any more, Hal always complains." In the next frame a neighbor informs
the worried wife about the product that rids the home of objectionable odors.
On a subsequent evening hubby comes home and not smelling anything cook-
ing remarks, "Going to eat out tonight, Irene? I don't smell dinner cooking."
"Ah, ha," replies Irene, "WE HAVE FISH, but you can't smell it, thanks to
Does the fishery industry know how many persons are not eating fish because
its preparation and cooking develops objectionable odors in the home? It is
probable that a very considerable number of households in this country are
being robbed of the pleasures of eating fresh fish not only because it usually
lacks its original high sea flavor, but also because fish that is not fresh fouls
up the house in preparation and cooking.
On this home odor problem there is some first-hand experience to report.
The writer has been in the kitchen countless times while fresh fish, shipped by
air, have been cooking. Only a little over a week ago, for example, 150 pounds
of fresh shrimp were shipped by airfreight from Sea Island, Georgia. These
shrimp were cooked at a private club in Detroit. In the small kitchen at the
time these shrimp were cooking the odor that came off while they were in the
boiling water was no more noticeable than if they had been cooking rice.
Experiences such as this have convinced the writer that you can ship into
Detroit and other inland markets strictly fresh seafood if it is promptly pre-
cooled, properly packaged and shipped quickly to its destination by airfreight.
Ten experimental air shipments of shrimp have been made These were
kitchen-tested on each of several days after their arrival. Likewise 65 experi-
mental air shipments of other kinds of seafoods have been made-salmon from
Alaska, dungeness crabs from Washington, oysters from Virginia, pompano
from Florida, brook trout from Montana and Colorado, shad from Connecti-
cut, and lobsters and haddock from Massachusetts, etc.-in all a total of
approximately 75 experimental shipments to develop and test the principles
underlying a successful packaging and air transport operation in seafoods.
It is not meant to give the impression that the last word has been said on
methods of packaging and airfreighting seafoods. Rather, a modest beginning
has been made and perhaps the beginning paragraphs have been written in the
chapters yet to be produced on the possibilities in new methods of packaging and
transporting these perishable products.
When the study "Markets for Airborne Seafoods" was begun back in 1945,
no known air shipping of seafoods was then under way. Since this study,
which has included 75 experimental air shipments of seafoods, various air
carriers have undertaken to develop traffic in fresh fish. Most notable in this
connection are the experiences of American Airlines in their shipments of
lobsters and other kinds of seafoods from Newfoundland into Boston, New
York, Cleveland and other inland markets, and Meteor Airlines operation from
the Great Lakes into New York. Other carriers such as United Air Lines,
Slick Airways, Chicago and Southern Airlines and Eastern Airlines also have
shipped seafoods to some extent.
Perhaps the most significant airfreight operation in fresh fish at the present
time is that of Meteor Airlines which is flying fresh fish from Michigan's Great
Lakes into New York City. Last July representatives of the several interests
involved came out to Wayne University after reading the research reports.
Soon after this conference, 50,000 to 75,000 pounds of whitefish, pickerel and
other fresh water species were being flown weekly from ten different points in
the Great Lakes area. The fish are received in New York by fresh water
wholesale fish receivers and the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company.
The operation runs something like this: the fish are taken from the Lakes
today, eviscerated, precooled (but not adequately), placed in light wooden
wire bound containers, lightly iced (5 pounds of ice to 50 pounds of fish),
trucked to the airport and loaded during the early part of the night-130 boxes
per plane load. The shipment is then flown to New York where it is unloaded
by means of a conveyor utilizing gravity to move each individual box of fish
from the plane into the waiting truck. The fish are then trucked to the receivers
located in the Fulton market in New York City so as to arrive between 6 and
7 a.m., and from there they move into retail outlets. In other words these fish
are on the retail market 24 to 28 hours after being taken from the water.
Previously nearly all of the fresh fish from the Great Lakes moved into
New York via railway express. With the introduction of airfreight, one full
market-day is saved and added to the commercial life of the product. And
one day, especially if it is the fourth to the sixth day, can mean a great deal
commercially because of its effect upon the eating quality of the fish.
The costs connected with this significant operation are of interest. In general
the costs per net pound of fish via airfreight are reported by Mr. Joseph Scott,
coordinator of the operation, to be identical to the costs of shipping by rail
express. Broken down these costs are as follows: $1.00 per hundredweight for
packaging; $1.00 for trucking (50c at origin and 50c at destination); $4.00
per hundredweight for the airline haul, airport to airport-a total cost of $6.00
Of course, the economics of the situation are not always so favorable to
the air carrier and the fishery industry as is the case in the Great Lakes-New
York operation. In this instance, the air carrier has specialized in a short-haul
operation from the East Coast into Detroit and other nearby cities. Traffic
out-bound from New York has far exceeded traffic for the return trip. Gen-
erally, the carrier was operating with very light loads or no loads at all on
the return trip from the West to the East. Traffic in fresh fish from the Great
Lakes, therefore, provides a full load for the return trip. Since it costs very
nearly as much to fly a plane empty as loaded, it is obvious that even a low
rate operation could be very beneficial to the carrier in this instance.
There are other situations over the country in which the economic factors
seem to fall into the lap of the air carrier in an advantageous manner. American
Overseas Airlines, for example, have a number of planes daily crossing the
North Atlantic via Newfoundland to the States. By the time these planes reach
Gander in Newfoundland, they use up several thousands of pounds of gasoline
which must be counted as a part of their total permissible load in their taking
off, let us say at Shannon. Being able to carry approximately 1,000 less gallons
of gasoline, or 6,000 pounds, from Gander on to New York, makes room for
2 to 3 tons of cargo on this last leg of the trip. When it is realized that there
are 20 such crossings of the Atlantic each day, this means that 50 to 100 tons
of seafood could be carried daily from Newfoundland down to Boston and
New York with but very little extra expense to the airline.
Other air carriers may find that they have a similar economic situation in
their operation. For example, Pan American flying from the South may have
unused capacity from the Dominican Republic or Cuba into Florida and from
points in Alaska to Seattle.
If an airfreight operation in seafoods is to be successful, however, there must
be something in addition to air cargo space. Especially must there be an
abundant supply of seafood suitable for air shipment.
Propensity of Seafoods to Air Shipment
Factors which weigh with force in the determination of the kinds of fish
most amenable to air shipment are consumer preference, price per pound,
volume of catch, seasonal variation in the catch, and rate of perishability.
All of these factors were used in devising the formula to measure the disposi-
tion of various species of seafoods to air shipment.
Consumer preference surveys conducted in Kansas City, Chicago and
Detroit gave consumers an opportunity to express their preferences for various
species of fin and shell fish most desired in air shipment. Top ten on the list
were shrimp, pompano, red snapper, salmon, lobsters, swordfish, oysters, stur-
geon, crabs and scallops-70 per cent of which are found in the waters of the
Gulf and South Atlantic.
Price per pound was given considerable weight in the propensity formula
because previous experience in predicting air cargo potentials showed that
relatively high priced perishables benefit doubly from high speed transportation.
Rate of perishability and seasonal variation in the supply also weighs im-
Using a weighted formula nearly 100 species of fish were given an air pro-
pensity rating and grouped into three classifications of air propensity: "ex-
cellent," "good," and "fair."
The species judged most likely to lead the air cargo parade are sturgeon,
brook trout, pompano, swordfish, whitefish, oysters, crabs, lobsters, scallops,
clams, shrimp, flounder and red snapper. All of these climbed into the top
It is significant that almost all (95 per cent) of the total annual catch of
shellfish rate "excellent" on the propensity index and the remaining 5 per cent
rate "good." In this field lies a vast potential for airfreight. The air transporter
of seafoods should be interested particularly in those species which show
highest propensity to air carriage and that, at the same time, are caught in
sufficient quantities to provide worthwhile loading over a long season of time.
Total annual production of seafoods in continental United States judged
"excellent," or highly amenable to air shipment, is 433 millions of pounds.
Not all seafoods are adapted to air carriage at this time. Of those that are
adapted to air shipment, the highest concentration is to be found in the
waters of the Gulf, Caribbean and South Atlantic. Fifty per cent of the seafood
production in continental United States having a high propensity to air carriage
is found in these southern waters. Seafood production in this area strongly
inclined to air carriage amounts to upwards of 215 millions of pounds, most
of which is shellfish, shrimp accounting for upwards of 70 per cent of the
Fresh fish and shellfish production by areas and air propensity classes for
continental United States is found in Table 1. A breakdown of fresh fish and
shell fish production for the South Atlantic and Gulf by air propensity classes
appears in Table 2.
SUMMARY OF AVERAGE 1939-1941 CATCH OF FRESH FISH AND SHELLFISH
BY PRODUCTION AREAS AND BY AIR PROPENSITY CLASSES *
(IN THOUSANDS OF POUNDS)
EXCELLENT GOOD FAIR TOTALS
PRODUCTION PER PER PER PER
POUNDS CENT POUNDS CENT POUNDS CENT POUNDS CENT
New England 38,258 8.8 74,328 18.2 498,958 57.1 611,544 35.64
Middle Atlantic 29,898 6.9 33,556 8.2 44,249 5.1 107,703 6.28
Chesapeake Bay 87,133 20.1 20,390 4.9 44,218 5.1 151,741 8.84
South Atlantic & Gulf 215,233 49.7 84,213 20.6 5,351 .6 304,797 17.77
Pac.f c 34,472 8.0 77,025 18.9 110,291 12.6 221,788 12.93
Great Lakes 25,512 5.9 41,117 10.1 13,555 1.6 80,184 4.67
and Tributaries 5 .6 10,267 2.5 31,779 3.6 42,051 2.42
Alaska 2,549 .6 67,808 16.6 125,619 14.3 195,976 11.42
TOTALS 433,060 100.0 408,704 100.0 874,020 100.0 1,715,784 100.00
*SOURCE: Larsen, Spencer A.; Reitz, William; Burgum, Katherine K.; Markets for Air-
borne Seafoods, (1948), Wayne University Press, Detroit. p. 66.
If, then, there exists (1) an air carrier who is interested in seafood traffic
and (2) quantity production of seafoods having a high propensity to air
carriage, the next problem is their preparation and packaging for shipment.
Packaging Airborne Seafoods
Airfreight calls for drastic changes in the methods of packaging seafoods.
Generally it is advisable to eliminate dispensable weight, such as viscera, heads,
ice, and heavy wooden containers.
Fish now are transported by surface means in cumbersome wooden boxes
and barrels of varied shapes, dimensions, and weights. These containers
range in size from 50 to 200 pound capacity, a 100 pound capacity box being
quite generally used. This size of container was used as the unit of compari-
son in the cost study.
A wooden container which holds 100 pounds of fish weighs 27 pounds itself
and calls for about 50 pounds of ice, being re-iced when necessary. The
shipping of 100 pounds of fish in the conventional manner requires, then,
AVERAGE 1939-1941 CATCH OF FRESH FISH AND SHELLFISH
FOR THE SOUTH ATLANTIC AND GULF AREAS BY AIR PROPENSITY CLASSES *
(IN THOUSANDS OF POUNDS)
EXCELLENT GOOD FAIR
SPECIES POUNDS SPECIES POUNDS SPECIES POUNDS
Lemon Sole 79 Bluefish 3,314 Croaker 4,849
Pompano 685 Blue Runner 746 Scup 76
Shad 1,287 Butterfish 56 Buffalofishl 60
Snapper, Red 7,212 Drum: Black 1,266 Carpl 366
Striped Bass 440 Red 2,258
Clams: Hard 1,342 Flounders:
Crabs: Hard 29,513 Blackback 249
Soft and Peelers 468 Fluke 157
Lobsters: Spiny 411 Gray Sole 145
Oysters: Eastern 24,332 Yellowtail and
Scallops: Bay 158 Dabs 682
Shrimp 149,306 Grouper 6,024
Kingfish or King
Sea Trout: Gray 3,237
Spanish Mackerel 6,908
Totals 215,233 84,213 5,351
1 Fresh water fish
*SOURCE: Larsen, Spencer A.; Reitz, William; Burgum, Katherine K., Markets for Air-
borne Seafoods, (1948), Wayne University Press, Detroit. p. 64.
about 77 pounds of container and ice or a minimum of 70 per cent of the net
weight of the fish.
Wooden containers are purchased at an average cost of 1 c for each
pound of seafood capacity; a box designed to carry 100 pounds of seafood
costs in the neighborhood of $1.25.
Obviously this conventional fish pack is unsuited for air shipments, and
indeed it is doubtful if it is the best method for shipment by relatively rapid
means of surface transportation. Conventional methods of packing fish are
found wanting in air shipments because:
(1) There is too much useless weight.
(2) Water from melting ice damages other cargo.
(3) Melting ice and open containers result in objectionable fish odors and
corrosive damage to planes and other vehicles.
In an effort to develop a new principle for the shipment of fresh seafoods,
air cargo research at Wayne University enlisted the aid of the Goodyear Tire
and Rubber Company and the Hinde and Dauch Paper Company. After a
great many trials of various methods of preparing seafood for air shipment, a
light-weight corrugated container was developed. This light-weight container
is moisture proofed with a Pliofilm envelope and insulated with Plycraft. The
box holds about 45 pounds of seafood which, before packing, is precooled to
32 degrees F. This box weighs 41/2 pounds or 10 per cent of its net load.
Packed for shipment, the temperature rise in this package ranges from .5 of
a degree F. to 1 degree F. per hour when the outside temperature is between
60 degrees and 90 degrees F.
When packed with seafood, the Pliofilm envelope is sealed so as to prevent
moisture from getting to the container thereby lessening its strength and in-
sulating efficiency. Both the inner and outer containers are closed securely
with strips of tape.
Comparison of Costs
A comparison of the total costs of shipping 100 pounds of fresh fish via
scheduled air carriers from different points of origin to Detroit is presented in
Table 3. Both air and surface hauls include pick-up and delivery. The ship-
ping costs include the expenses of packaging materials for which the conven-
COMPARATIVE COSTS OF SHIPPING SEAFOODS BY RAIL EXPRESS
AND AIRFREIGHT FROM REPRESENTATIVE CITIES TO DETROIT-(NOV. 1949)
Cost of Transportation, Ice (for
Rail Express only) and Box Per
100 Pounds of Net Weight of
ORIGIN RAIL EXPRESS* AIRFREIGHT*
New York $5.00 $6.00
Boston 5.91 6.01
Norfolk 6.07 6.40
Jacksonville 9.01 10.35
New Orleans 9.01 11.30
*Both services include pick-up and delivery.
tional wooden box and ice runs to $1.25 per 100 pounds of net fish and for
the iceless insulated pack $1.50 per 100 pounds or an additional packaging
cost of 25 cents per 100 pounds for air shipment.
In the cost comparison a shipment unit of 177 pounds is used for rail express
which consists of 100 pounds of fish, 50 pounds of ice and 27 pounds of box
A unit of 100 pounds is used for airfreight which consists of 91 pounds
of fish and 9 pounds of container.
Cost comparisons for shipping facilities and transportation from several
points of origin to Detroit show some, but relatively small, variation depending
upon the points of origin and the type of air carrier employed. As already
stated, the total costs of shipping fresh water fish from the Great Lakes to
New York are reported to be the same for airfreight and for rail express when
transported by a contract air carrier.
Generally, as will be seen in Table 3, the adjusted costs of shipping fresh
fish from Boston, Norfolk, Jacksonville, and New Orleans, to Detroit via
airfreight are only slightly higher than for rail express. As recent as four years
ago costs of shipping by air were more than five times what they are today.
A dealer who is considering shipping seafoods via airfreight should remem-
ber that the methods and standards of such an operation are vastly different.
Useless weight must be eliminated, the temperatures of the product kept in the
thirties, and time saved.
A step by step guide for the packaging and marketing of airborne seafoods
together with detailed information on production, consumption, costs and
propensity to air carriage appears in the study "Markets for Airborne Sea-
foods." Developments in the industry since publication of this study indicate,
however, that a realistic research job has been done. It is believed to be a
blueprint that will work if sensible adaptations are made in it.
An Economic Survey of the Texas Fishing Industry
A. W. ANDERSON
Marine Biologist, Texas Game, Fish and Oyster Commission
THE TEXAS GAME, FISH AND OYSTER COMMISSION MARINE LABORATORY made
an attempt to survey the dollar value of the Texas fishing industry. Little was
known of the economic condition of the fishing industry along the Texas coast
because Stevenson's work (1863) is, of course, outdated. The expansion of the
frozen food industry has made the work of Woolrich (1946) inaccurate for
general use. The work of Woolrich and Stevenson was and is of great value
but with the change of the economic standards after World War II there was
a need for a re-valuation of the Texas fishing industry.
McDaniel (1949) estimated that the commercial seafood industry had an
investment in Texas amounting to $40,325,000.00. This estimate considered not
only the investment along the coast but also the investment of many
inland retailers, wholesalers and freezing plants dealing with marine products.
The survey by the Marine Laboratory did not include these inland investments
nor did it include seafood cafes inland or on the coast. McDaniel's estimate
of the value of 2,220 fishing boats is only $4,400,000.00, which is very conser-
vative. The number of fishermen on fishing boats is higher than reported in
this survey but probably includes many of the part-time fishermen in skiffs.
Under the direction of Mr. J. L. Baughman, Chief Marine Biologist, Texas
Game, Fish and Oyster Commission, Mr. Byron B. Baker, Jr., Mr. F. M.
Daugherty, Jr. and the author contacted the owners of the various commercial
fish houses, boats, shipyards and freezing plants. A standard questionnaire
form was used to record the information given us. Each owner was assured
that the information would be used to compile totals for each area and that
the information would not be used singularly for any one house, boat, ship-
yard or freezing plant. In many cases the information was taken from the
company books. All information is based on the calendar year 1948.
The extent of the fishing industry made it impossible to cover every detail
and the values expressed represent only the basic value of the industry. In the
expressed totals the figures were rounded off to the nearest one hundred or one
thousand dollars depending on the figure in question.
The figures in Tables 1 and 2 represent only the major items considered.
Many minor items are not included.
Commercial Fish Houses
In 1948 there were 83 commercial fish houses on the Texas coast with a total
investment valuation of $2,583,000.00. The payroll for the permanent em-
VALUATION AND EXPENSES OF THE TEXAS GULF COAST FISHING INDUSTRY
Number ................ 83
Valuation .............. $2,583,000.00
Number .................. 319
Payroll ................... $748,000.00
Part Time Employees
Payroll ................. $429,000.00
House Owned Trucks
Number .................. 151
Valuation ................ $329,000.00
Expense .................. $166,000.00
Number ................. 1,393
Valuation ................ $7,383,000.00
Maintenance ............ $1,180.400.00
Fuel .................. $1,199,600.00
Ice .................... $ 855,000.00
FREEZING AND COLD STORAGE
Capacity in pounds of Marine Products
Freezing 24 hrs ............. 528,200
Storage above 320 F. ........ 712,000
Storage below 320 F. ..... 2,473,300
Num ber .................. 21
Valuation ................ $1,623,000.00
Payroll .................. $ 575,000.00
N um ber .................... 114
Valuation .................. $415,000.00
Maintenance ................ $ 80,000.00
Fuel ...................... $ 67,000.00
VALUATION AND EXPENSES OF THE TEXAS GULF COAST FISHING INDUSTRY
AREA CAPITAL INVESTMENT VALUATION EXPENSE
1. Port Isabel $ 1,111,000 $ 347,000
2. Corpus Christi 986,000 740,000
3. Port Aransas 200,000 93,400
4. Aransas Pass 1,313,000 441,000
5. Rockport 1,311,000 454,000
6. Port Lavaca 683,000 1,025 000
7. Palacios 1,116,000 379,000
8. Matagorda 92,000 49,000
9. Freeport 444,000 172,000
10. Houston 378,000 171,000
11. Galveston Bay 899,000 198,000
12. Galveston 1,665,000 963 000
13. Port Arthur 2,135,000 997,000
TOTAL $12,333,000 $6,029,400
ployees in these 83 houses exceeded $748,000.00. There were 319 permanent
employees concerned. The payroll for the part-time employees exceeded $429,-
000.00. It was impossible to determine the number of part-time employees.
There were 151 house-owned trucks with a total value of $329,000. The
truck operating expense exceeded $166,000.00 in 1948. Generally, shipments
of marine products are F.O.B. the point of origin, and charges are paid by the
The type of construction and floor space of the houses was considered but
is too general to be shown here.
In 1948 there were 2,557 commercial fishermen on the Texas coast as com-
pared to the 601 reported by the U.S. Fish Commission in 1880. Stevenson
reported that there were 1,277 commercial fishermen in 1890. He reported a
property value of only $315,000. This property value of $315,000 was based
on the value of the sail craft, skiffs, apparatus of capture, shore property and
In 1948 the fishermen received $6,500,000 for their catch. This estimated
value is based on the production figures and average price in 1948. It should
be noted that this estimated figure is above the total expense of the fishing
There were 1,393 commercial fishing boats in use in 1948. Their value
exceeded $7,383,000. The maintenance costs on these boats was slightly over
$1,180,000 which included haul-outs and mechanical work. The fuel costs for
125 diesel boats and 1,221 gasoline powered boats was $1,199,600. There were
47 sail boats fishing on the Texas coast. The annual ice cost was $855,000
while gear maintenance cost was $729,400. The total expense of the fishing
boats was $3,964,000 in 1948.
Twenty-four of the fishing boats had depth recorders. The number of fishing
boats with depth recorders is increasing. Two hundred and fifty-two boats were
equipped with radio receivers while 168 other boats had two-way radios.
The fishing days per boat ranged from 60 to 220. The average number of
working days per year was 140.
Freezing and Cold Storage
Woolrich listed several freezing plants with a freezing capacity of 500,000
pounds for each twenty-four hour period. This economic survey of the Gulf
Coast considered all but one of the freezing plants listed by Woolrich. Com-
parable figures would show a freezing capacity of 600,000 pounds each twenty-
four hour period in 1948.
The storage capacity for marine products below 32' F. totaled 2,473,300
pounds in 1948. The same type storage capacity in 1946 was only slightly over
one million pounds.
The storage capacity for marine products above 32 F. in 1948 was 712,000
Boat maintenance is an important item to the boat owners of the Texas coast.
There were twenty-one boat yards in Texas doing work on fishing boats. Fishing
boat maintenance, that year, amounted to over $1,180,000. The twenty-one
boat yards had a total of 296 permanent employees. The payroll for these
employees was $575,000.
At first glance, the charter boat service to the sports fishermen along the
Texas coast appears to be of great importance. When one drives along the
docks at Corpus Christi, Port Aransas or Port Isabel, Texas, it appears that
there is a great amount of money invested in the charter boat service. Survey
figures do not show this to be true.
The Port Aransas area has a total of $188,000 invested in the charter boat
service. Their annual maintenance cost is $35,000, while the annual fuel cost
is $40,000. With a capital investment of $70,000, Corpus Christi ranks second
in charter boat service. Their annual maintenance cost was set at $5,000. The
annual fuel cost was estimated at $3,000.
Port Isabel has a capital investment of $40,000. The annual maintenance and
fuel costs are not known.
The total value of 114 charter boats on the Texas coast was set at $415,000.
The maintenance cost was $80,000 and the fuel cost for the same period was
The valuation and expenses of the Texas Gulf coast fishing industry are
shown by items in Table 1. The number and valuation of the commercial fish
houses is shown on Table 1. The permanent and part-time employee payroll
for the fish houses was in excess of one million dollars. The house owned trucks
were valued at $329,000 and their maintenance cost was $166,000 in 1948. The
number of commercial fishing boats was 1,393 with a total valuation of
$7,383,000. The total expense of these boats was $3,964,400 during the above
Table 1 also shows the freezing and cold storage capacity of the freezing
plants. It shows the total number and valuation of the ship yards and also the
number and valuation of the charter boats with their maintenance and fuel
Table 2 shows the valuation and expenses of the Texas fishing industry by
area. The Port Aransas, Galveston, Rockport, Aransas Pass, Palacios and Port
Isabel areas have the greatest capital investment. In all probability they are the
greatest producers of marine products on the Texas coast. There is no basis for
a comparison of the valuations and expenses as shown in Table 2.
The work of Stevenson (1893) gives us a good means of comparison of the
increased capital investment and expenses. In 1948 there was $12,333,000
invested in the fishing industry of the Texas coast. Stevenson reported $315,427
in 1890 or about 39 per cent of today's investment.
Woolrich (1946) reported that there was a freezing capacity of about 500,000
pounds of marine products in the various freezing plants on the Texas coast.
In 1948 this capacity had increased to 600,000 pounds.
The capital investment valuations in this report are not as high as those
shown by McDaniel (1949). This report does not consider the many types of
businesses that lie inland and deal with marine products.
Texas is growing! This important production of our natural resources is
linked directly with the sorely needed increased production of industrial pro-
ducts. The increased production of our natural resources in the past thirty years
has made it necessary to impose upon the producers various types of manage-
Farm products have felt the restriction and aid of the federal government.
The oil industry in Texas has seen the restriction of oil production as a con-
servation measure. Likewise, the producers of marine products have had
restrictions imposed upon them to stop needless waste.
Today the production of these products is above the production of yesteryear,
and rightly so. The increased need by the people of the world has forced pro-
duction up and up. The restrictions, we hope, have not retarded the needed
production but have limited and decreased the waste above and beyond the
production that could be utilized.
As time goes on each industry looks for new fields into which it can expand.
The fishing industry is no exception. Since 1946 the red shrimp production has
aided the fishermen of the Texas coast. In 1948 mullet fishery was opened on
a small scale. There is now a possibility of a shark fishery on the Texas coast.
These new products call for a higher capital investment and higher expenses
and at the same time benefit the fishing industry to the people of Texas.
The people of the nation and the world benefit from the added investment and
expenses. This money goes to various places to produce the needed equipment
and materials for the increased production.
McDANIEL, RUEL. 1949. Here is your commercial seafood industry. Seafood Business,
STEVENSON, CHARLES H. 1893. Report on the coast fisheries of Texas. United States
Commission of Fish and fisheries Part XVII. Report of the Commissioner for 1889
to 1891. 47 pp.
WOOLRICH, WILLIS RAYMOND. 1946. Economic analysis of the Texas fishing industry.
Thesis presented to the University of Texas. 71 pp.
The Legislative Situation on Sponges
R. A. KAHN
Branch of Commercial Fisheries, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
i. General Background of the Present Condition of the
BEFORE REFERRING to the legislative situation on sponges, the general back-
ground of the present condition of the American and Caribbean sponge market
must be discussed.
The principal commercial sponges are sheepswool, yellow, velvet, grass, wire,
reef, and hardhead, largely from the waters of the United States, Cuba, and
the Bahamas; and Turkey cup, Turkey toilet, Zimocca, elephant-ear and honey-
comb or Mandruke, chiefly from the Mediterranean countries. The Turkey cup,
Turkey toilet, and minor species of similar texture are marketed in the United
States as Mediterranean silk sponges. The West Indian reef sponges are finer
grades of hardhead from the same source are marketed as American silk
The best grades of American sponges are obtained by divers who descend in
diving suits to depths of 100 feet or more. Sponges in shallower waters are
gathered from boats by pronged hooks on the ends of long poles. The use of
drag nets does a great deal of harm to the sponge beds because it uproots small
sponges as well as those of marketable size, and is therefore not permitted in
the Florida sponge fishery.
2. American Production of Sponges
There were employed about 730 sponge fishermen in 1940 and 1123 in 1939.
Many in the meantime migrated to other employment. Where formerly 200
boats were employed there are now 60.
The production of sponges in the United States is confined to a limited area
along the West Coast of Florida, and yielded a production of 158,304 pounds
in 1947, at $1,741,883, or $11 per pound. Among the 1947 production were
12,456 lbs. large wool; 15,715 lbs. small wool; 99,408 lbs. wool rags; 127,579
lbs. total wool; 11,220 Ibs. yellow and 19,505 lbs. grass sponges. Fluctuations
in the annual catch, at least until the middle '30's, were caused mainly by
weather conditions, for about the same number of vessels were employed in the
fishery from year to year. As can be seen from Table 1, U.S. sponge production
decreased from an average of 628,489 lbs. for six years, 1934- 1939 inclusive
to a low of 134,581 lbs. in 1948.
TOTAL UNITED STATES SPONGE PRODUCTION (1934-1944)
TOTAL TOTAL AVERAGE UNIT
YEAR POUNDS VALUE PRICE PER POUND
1934 655,000 837,000 1.28
1935 655,000 838,000 1.28
1936 AVERAGE 739,939 1,105,000 1.49
1937 628,489 631,000 1,220,000 1.93
1938 606,000 1,071,000 1.77
1939 484,000 1,162,000 2.40
1940 243,000 888,000 3.65
19411 231,179 1,483,554 6.42
19421 211,816 1,848,095 8.72
19431 200,161 2,505,521 12.52
19441 164,724 2,771,590 16.82
1945 203,447 2,716,374 13.35
1946 156,916 2,945,831 18.77
1947 158,304 1,741,883 11.00
1948 134,581 899,927 6.69
1. Total United States production figures for these years are not avail-
able. Sales of sponges on the Tarpon Springs Exchange in Florida are
available, and an estimate of the total production was made by using
an average ratio of total production to sales on the Exchange and pro-
jecting it to the four years.
3. Cuban and Bahamian Production of Sponges
The production of Cuba shows an even sharper decrease, as may be seen
from Table 2.
CUBAN SPONGE PRODUCTION 1935-1948
YEAR QUANTITY VALUE PER POUND
1935-1939 av. 652.000 378,000 0.58
1940-1944 av. 95,250 450,800 4.73
1945 27,050 214,810 7.94
1946 44,070 442,500 10.04
1947 16,230 132,090 8.14
1948 18,000 124,000 7.00
The production in the Bahamas similarly declined from a high of 1,486,000
lbs. in 1905 to about 32,500 lbs. in 1948.
The decline of production was due in large part to the destruction of sponge
beds by hurricanes of about half of the supply in the Bahamian waters and the
depletion by excessive fishing of Cuban beds. Some measure of recovery was
noted after 1933, but in 1939 a blight attacked the Bahamian and Cuban beds
in addition to those in Florida. The velvet sponges in the Bahamas were almost
completely destroyed, and after 1939 the Bahama Islands ceased to rank as the
principal competing country for this product. So far there are no signs of
4. Imports of Sponges
Before World War II approximately 1 million pounds of sponges were con-
sumed in the United States. Imports supplied about one half of the total con-
sumption. From Table 3 the total imports of sponges in the United States may
be seen, while Table 4 contains the imports from Cuba, the British West Indies
and the "Other Countries."
TOTAL UNITED STATES IMPORTS OF ALL SPONGES (1934-1944)
TOTAL TOTAL AVERAGE UNIT PRICE
YEAR POUNDS VALUE PER POUND
1934 479,307 $ 387,730 $0.81
1935 613,143 464,211 0.76
1936 Average 605,683 561,738 0.93
1937 523,373 581,906 587,620 1.01
1938 428,664 475,238 1.11
1939 431,536 476,035 0.97
1940 519,041 588,763 1.13
1941 222,117 518,107 2.33
1942 117,528 613,010 5.22
1943 194,781 909,205 4.67
1944 123,581 944,459 7.64
1945 95,596 791,979 8.28
1946 328,281 3,087,321 9.40
1947 208,653 1,674,818 8.03
1948 355,015 2,587,305 7.29
1949 Jan.-July 187,639 1,390,603 7.41
SOURCE: Foreign Commerce and Navigation of the United States-1934-1944.
TOTAL UNITED STATES IMPORTS FROM CUBA AND THE BRITISH WEST INDIES
CUBA BRITISH WEST INDIES OTHER COUNTRIES
TOTAL IMPORTS (BAHAMAS) IMPORTS TOTAL IMPORTS
YEAR POUNDS VALUE POUNDS VALUE POUNDS VALUE
1934 309,502 262,813 134,779 55,864 35,026 69,053
1935 8 1389,167 313,357 u- 192,306 65.583 a 31,670 85,271
1936 s) 363,680 387,073 g g189,973 97,039 ,) 52,030 77,626
1937 -315,922 363,698 ~ 227,056 133,632 8' 38,928 90,290
1938 271,466 343,783 S 141,195 68,639 > 16,003 62,816
1939 277,124 288,242" 187,783 119,105 26,629 68,688
1940 464,589 503,681 38,998 40,351 15,454 44,731
1941 185,636 443,096 21,662 19,244 14,819 55,767
1942 101,317 569,620 9,481 17,562 6,730 25,828
1943 191,636 803,615 572 3,038 2,573 102.552
1944 118,076 899,629 2,649 14,652 2,856 30,178
1945 62,898 513,733 87 450 32,611 277,796
1946 70,234 608,154 121 400 257,926 2,478,767
1947 32,098 261 348 17,686 75.843 158,869 1,337,627
1948 46,505 235,941 880 8,970 307,630 2,342,394
1949-Jan.-July 20,456 106,930 1,041 7,852 166,142 1,275 821
Before the war Cuba supplied roughly 66 per cent of the quantity of all
imports of sponges in the United States, and the British West Indies almost 33
per cent. The other countries, among which the Mediterranean countries,
especially Greece and Italy, have to be mentioned, supplied the rest, about 1/19
of all imports. After the war the import situation changed completely. Sponge
fishing in the Mediterranean, which was interrupted during the war, was re-
sumed and expanded. Because of the short supplies available from domestic
sources and the short supplies available in Cuba and the British West Indies,
imports from the Mediterranean area increased tremendously. In 1948 Cuba
exported only about 13 per cent of all our imports, the British West Indies
about 0.2 per cent, while the Mediterranean countries participated with about
87 per cent of the imports. The relationship of imports to domestic production
developed inversely. While in 1938 imports equalled about 75 per cent of the
domestic production,, in 1948 they surpassed domestic production by about
160.5 per cent.
5. Sponge Tariffs and Tariff Policies
To protect the growing American sponge industry, a tariff was established
which applied to all countries except Cuba, which has a 20 per cent preferen-
tial tariff on all products. The Tariff Act of 1913 (par. 68) provided rates of
duty at 10 or 15 per cent ad valorem on all types of sponges imported. Sponges,
trimmed or untrimmed, but not further advanced in value by chemical processes,
were dutiable at 10 per cent ad valorem; bleached sponges and sponges ad-
vanced in value by processes involving chemical operation, 15 per cent. In the
Tariff Act of 1922 (par. 1447) a rate of 15 per cent ad valorem was set on all
types of sponges and 25 per cent on manufacture of sponges.
The Tariff Act of 1930 (par. 1545) provides: "Sponges, commercially known
as sheepswool, 30 per centum ad valorem; sponges, commercially known as
yellow, grass, or velvet, 25 per centum ad valorem; all other sponges, not spe-
cially provided for, 15 per centum ad valorem; manufacture of sponges, or of
which sponge is the component material of chief value, not specially provided
for, 25 per centum ad valorem." Under a decision of the Customs Court (Abs.
No. 21073) July 28, 1932, sponge clippings were held to be entitled to free
duty under paragraph 1750 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as paper stock rather
than dutiable at 10 per cent as waste.
By Presidential Proclamation, effective September 18, 1932, under Section
336 of the Tariff Act of 1930, the duty on sheepswool sponges was reduced to
221/2 per cent.
In September 1934, a trade agreement between the United States and Cuba
provided for a reduction in the rate of duty on velvet sponges from 20 per cent
(the preferential rate for Cuba) to 12 per cent, and the rate of duty on sponges
not specially provided for was reduced from 12 per cent (the preferential rate
for Cuba) to 6 per cent. The latter included hardhead, reef, and all others.
In a trade agreement with the United Kingdom (including the Bahamas),
effective January 1, 1939, rates of duty on yellow, grass, and velvet spoliges
were reduced from 25 per cent to 15 per cent and on hardhead and reef, from
15 per cent to 71/ per cent.
6. Protection of Sponges Under Biological Control
At present commercial sponge resources of the United States are protected
both by an Act of the Congress of the United States and by the laws of the
State of Florida. The Act of Congress (Public No. 172, approved August 15,
1914; 38 Stat. 6921) prohibits the capture in waters of the Gulf of Mexico and
the Straits of Florida, outside of the limits of territorial jurisdiction, of sponges
measuring less than five inches in diameter when wet. This Act also forbids the
landing, curing, possession, or sale of sponges less than that size and provides
penalties for violation. The laws of Florida (Chapter K, Art. 27, Sec. 8084)
contain substantially the same prohibitions with respect to catching and mar-
keting sponges within the territorial limits of the State. A State law also pro-
vides that hooks used in removing sponges from the bottom shall be five inches
wide and prohibits the use of diving equipment for taking sponges within the
territorial limits of the State. In accordance with the Constitution of Florida,
State jurisdiction on the West Coast extends three leagues (nine miles) from
An Executive Order was issued by the President of the United States on
September 28, 1945, regarding boundaries of territorial jurisdiction of the
United States. It is a statement of policy; how far the present jurisdiction has
been changed or extended is not yet known.
7. Unit Values of Sponges and Fishermen's Incomes
The unit values of both domestically harvested sponges and imported
sponges rose extremely during the war. While in 1938 the unit value of domestic
sponges per pound was $1.80, this unit value in 1946 was $18.77, receding in
1947 to $11.00, in 1948 to $6.69 and in 1949, according to estimates for the
first seven months, to $6.09. The unit value of imported sponges never reached
the height of the domestic sponges. In 1938 it was $1.11, in 1946, $9.02, reced-
ing in 1947 to $8.03, and in 1948 to $7.28. In the first seven months of 1949
the unit value for imported sponges was $7.41 per pound. From Tables 5 and
6 it can be seen that imported sponges retain a higher sales value than domestic
UNIT VALUE PER LB. OF SPONGES PRODUCED IN U.S. 1931-JULY, 1949
YEAR UNIT VALUE (PER POUND)
1931 $ 1.58
1949 (7 months) 6.09
SOURCE: Official statistics of the U. S. Fish
and Wildlife Service
UNIT VALUE PER LB. OF
1949 (7 i
SPONGES IMPORTED IN U.S. FOR CONSUMPTION
UNIT VALUE (PER POUND)
Official statistics of the U. S.
nt of Commerce.
sponges, not only absolutely but also in relationship to pre-war years. However,
it has to be considered that the price of domestic sponges is a price paid at the
Tarpon Springs exchange, to which packing and shipping costs have to be
added, while the price of imported sponges already include packing and shipping
8. Pending Legislation
Pending legislation attempts to go in two directions. First, efforts are being
made to increase production by replenishing the sponge beds, after further in-
vestigation of the causes of their depletion. Secondly, efforts are being made to
secure higher prices, and by that a higher income for the sponge fishermen.
Higher prices are attempted by either restricting imports or by levying higher
duties upon imports.
To evaluate the importance of the regress of domestic production and the
recession of prices, one has to look on the over-all income of sponge fishermen
resulting from their production. If one considers the total value of the United
States sponge production and assumes that this total value is about equal to the
sponge fishermen's income, one can see that the 1948 income was about the
same as the 1940 income. If one assumes that the number of sponge fishermen
has not noticeably changed, the conclusion is permitted that the income of each
individual fisherman is today about the same as it was in 1940: $1200 $2000
per year, despite the cost of living increase of about 69 per cent and food cost of
about 104 per cent. Under these circumstances there is no wonder that the
sponge fishermen attempt to move the legislative forces in their favor.
Before speaking of individual bills which specifically deal with sponges, it is
necessary to call attention to a bill which is of general importance,
namely, Senate Bill 1965, introduced by Senator Malone, which
would apply to sponges, among other important products. Senator Malone'
would like to see established a Foreign Trade Authority with the following
"(a) The Authority is authorized and directed, from time to time, and
subject to the limitations hereinafter provided, to prescribe and establish import
duties which will, within equitable limits, provide for fair and reasonable compe-
tition between domestic articles and like or similar foreign articles in the
principal market or markets of the United States. A foreign article shall be:
considered as providing fair and reasonable competition to United States pro-
ducers of a like or similar article if the Authority finds as a fact that the landed
duty paid price of the foreign article in the principal market or markets in the
United States is a fair price, including a reasonable profit to the importers, and
is not substantially below the price, including a reasonable profit for the
domestic producers, at which the like or similar domestic articles can be offered
to consumers of the same class by the domestic industry in the principal market
or markets in the United States."
Specific bills dealing with the sponge industry are S. 2097 and S. 5322. S.
2097 would provide "that the Secretary of Agriculture, through the Commodity
Credit Corporation and other means available to him for supporting prices of
agricultural commodities (treating natural sponges as an agricultural commodity
for the purposes of this Act), shall support the price of natural sponges to
producers at such levels as may be necessary to preserve the continued opera-
tion of the domestic natural sponge industry." The bill H.R. 5322 (Mr. Peter-
son) is identical to S. 2097. A specific investigation by the United States Tariff
Commission concerning sponges is sought by S. Res. 109 which would provide
"that the United States Tariff Commission is directed under authority conferred
by section 336 of the Tariff Act of 1930, and for the purposes of that section
to investigate the differences in the costs of production of the following domestic
articles and of any like or similar foreign articles: Sponges."
On August 25, 1949 Senator Pepper introduced a bill (S. 2489) which has
the following text: "That there is hereby authorized to be appropriated the
sum of $250,000, to enable the Secretary of the Interior in cooperation with
such States as may desire to participate, (1) to carry out a program of research
and experiment with respect to natural sponges, (2) to propagate and plant
natural sponges, (3) to study diseases of natural sponges, and (4) to take other
appropriate action to assist in the further development of the natural-sponge
industry. Any sum appropriated under the authority of this Act shall remain
available to the Secretary of the Interior until expended. (H.R. 6063 (Peterson)
is identical.) On the same date a bill, S. 2490, was introduced by Senator
Pepper (H.R. 6064 (Peterson) identical), which would direct "That the Direc-
tor of the National Bureau of Standards shall make a study of the relative
merits (as to durability and other pertinent characteristics) of natural sponges
and synthetic sponges with respect to the various purposes for which sponges
are commonly used, and shall, as soon as practicable, report the results of such
study to the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representa-
tives, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of
Commerce, and to the heads of such other Government agencies using sponges
as he considers appropriate." This latter bill deals specifically with the relative
merits of natural and synthetic sponges.
That the competition of synthetic sponges is not negligible, may be seen from
the tremendous inroads made by the synthetic sponges. 1948 figures of sponge
purchases of public agencies or public institutions have been obtained.:
1. Bureau of Federal Supply-It did not buy rubber or plastic sponges. It
bought $20,000 worth of natural sponges at an average price of 90c a piece
(precisely 21,446 pieces at $20,945) and it bought 33,000 cellulose sponges at
an average price of 38c a piece (precisely, a total purchase price of $12,683).
2. Post Office Department-It bought no natural or rubber sponges. It
bought 55,000 cellulose sponges at the price of $6,720; this means an average
price of 12c a piece.
3. The Army Ordnance Department-It brought no natural sponges or
rubber sponges. It bought 10,000 cellulose sponges, size E at 40c a piece, equal
to $4,000. It further bought 75,000 cellulose sponges, sizes 10, for the total
price of $27,800, at an average price of 37c a piece, and another 150,000
cellulose sponges, size 6, for the price of $21,000 (about 14c a piece).
4. Navy Stores-It bought 23,000 natural sponges at the price of $16,000
(average price 70c a piece); it also bought 6,000 cellulose sponges for $2,500
(average price of 42c a piece).
Despite the strong competition of the synthetic sponge there is still a great
demand for natural sponges, according to private investigations. Drug store
owners and drug store managers indicate that they can sell at present the
double quantity of natural sponges if the price could be reduced by about 50
Concluding, the problems of the American, Cuban and Bahamian sponge
industries may be stated:
(1) Diseases and probably overfishing decreased sponge supplies available.
For the improvement of the economic condition of the fishermen, at least double
the present supplies have to be harvested.
(2) Natural sponges must be made available in the retail markets with prices
which are in a proper relationship to the general cost of living, and to the cost
-of other products.
(3) Public purchasers should consider more than has been done in recent
years the producers of natural sponges.
(4) If the tariff policy of the United States is to be revised, proper considera-
tion should be given to the producers of natural sponges, to permit them fair
.costs of production and a reasonable profit.
The Social and Economic Problems of
The Florida Commercial Fisherman
ARTHUR H. TODD, Secretary-Treasurer, Florida Brotherhood of Fishermen
THE INTEREST of the Florida Brotherhood of Fishermen is centered on the
commercial fisherman and in improving his economic condition. In order to
accomplish this purpose it is essential to have a complete and comprehensive
scientific survey of our salt water resources. Conservation laws must be revised
and ample funds must be provided to carry on continuous scientific research
and to assure enforcement of the laws and rulings laid down. Salt water con-
servation is used as a political football and it is imperative that this situation be
changed in one way or another. The social ills from which the fisherman suffer
can be cured by an improvement in his economic condition. At the present
time probably less than 20 per cent can read and write. This condition exists
mainly because he had to start fishing to help provide a bare existence for the
family when he should have been in school. The situation is improving through
the Public School system of transportation, and insistence on school attendance.
Many thousands of our commercial fishermen live in homes that are no more
than shacks, and without enough chairs to seat the entire family at one time.
Many are without screens and do not have any of the modern conveniences that
even our day laborers have. Ninety five per cent are continuously in debt to
fish dealers and are kept in a virtual state of peonage as a result of this indebted-
ness. Although the commercial fisherman is theoretically an independent pro-
ducer he cannot be independent with a club over his head.
The causes of this condition may be considered under six headings.
First of all is the low level of fish production. For over two years production
has been low. During the Red Tide on the west coast very few fish were landed.
Appeals were made to the Senators and Congressmen but only wires and letters
were received stating that no funds were available for direct relief. A plan to
set up stations of some kind along the coast to give temporary employment to
the fishermen was suggested, but nothing was done. Since the scourge of the
Red Tide, production has not returned to its previous level and unless some
sensible conservation is put into effect, it probably will not do so.
Unfair competition is a second cause. Tens of thousands of people come to
Florida every year ostensibly for sport fishing. The fact is, however, that they
fish as a business and sell their catches commercially. Thousands of Florida
residents, who earn a good living in various other trades and professions, turn
to commercial fishing during the run season. This helps to create a glut on the
market and to lower prices for the year-round commercial fisherman.
Third are the many harmful and destructive methods used by both com-
mercial and sport fishermen.
Fourth is the lack of enforcement of conservation laws. Everyone in the fish-
ing industry knows how little enforcement there is of existing conservation laws.
Untold thousands of pounds of under-legal-size trout alone are caught and sold
each year by both commercial and so-called sport fishermen. Last year during
the closed season on mullet it was common knowledge that several hundred
thousand pounds of mullet were netted, transported out of Florida and sold.
Fifth is the opposition of some factions to any change being made in the
methods of applying conservation to the salt water fisheries. It is very apparent
that they want salt water conservation to remain in the same chaotic condition
that has prevailed for many years.
Sixth is unjust taxation. For years the commercial fisherman has been paying
a road tax of six cents per gallon on gas used strictly in vessels engaged in
commercial fishing. This tax alone amounts to several hundred dollars per year
to many of our fishermen. Governor Fuller Warren recognized the unfairness
of this tax and asked the legislature to relieve the fishermen of this burden.
However, a bill to relieve the fishermen of this tax was killed in committee.
The Florida Brotherhood of Fishermen has attempted to relieve this situation,
but it failed in accomplishing anything at the last meeting of the State Legisla-
ture. Almost two years were spent holding meetings and interviewing com-
mercial fishermen throughout the tidal waters of Florida, and finally a program
was worked out which was approved by twenty-two branches of our organiza-
Here is the original program:
1. That all local and special fishing laws be repealed at once.
2. That legislation be enacted to give full power over salt water conservation
to the present Conservation Board, with a provision that a complete factual
scientific survey of all salt water resources be made as speedily as possible
and that the Board be governed by the findings of this survey in making
future rules and regulations governing our salt water resources.
3. That, for the protection of our commercial fishermen and to provide suffi-
cient funds to finance the continuation of research, the following license fees
be imposed: Resident commercial fishermen, $25.00 per year; out of State
and alien commercial fishermen, $100.00 per year.
4. That it should be made unlawful for any persons except licensed commercial
fishermen to sell their catch.
5. That a small license fee and a bag limit be imposed on sport fishermen.
6. That the commercial fishermen be exempt from payment of the six cent road
tax on gasoline used in commercial fishing craft.
We attempted to work out a joint program with the commercial fish dealers.
A meeting of commercial fishermen's representatives and fish dealers was held
on December 18, 1948 and the following program was agreed upon:
(1) That the mullet fishery research program started by the University of
Miami Marine Laboratory in October, 1948 be continued, and expanded to
include all species of salt water fish and seafood produced in Florida waters, this
to be a permanent program. (2) That priority be exercised to determine if
some methods of taking fish such as stop netting, seining, and with small mesh
nets are harmful to the fishery. (3) That all local and special fishing laws be
repealed and the basic fishing laws be revised under the supervision of the
scientists. (4). In order to provide ample funds for the research program, that
all commercial fishermen be licensed as follows: Resident commercial fishermen,
$5.00 per year; out of State and alien commercial fishermen, $25.00 per year.
The above license fees were to be used exclusively to finance the research
program. (5) That it be made unlawful for any person or persons other than
regular licensed commercial fishermen to sell their catch.
The matter of license and bag limits on sport fishing was left to the discretion
of the Executive Committee, the general opinion being that a small license fee
be charged and a reasonable bag limit should be imposed. It was agreed that the
gasoline road tax as applied to commercial fishing craft is unjust and that every
effort be made to have this tax removed at the earliest possible date.
The following Executive Committee was elected to carry out the program as
outlined above: Robert Combs, Naples, Fla.; Heber Bell, St. Petersburg, Fla.;
Archie Turner, Naples, Fla.; Arthur H. Todd, St. Petersburg, Fla.
To act in an advisory capacity to the Committee the following were ap-
pointed: Dr. F. G. Walton Smith, Miami, Florida; Honorable L. C. Yeomans,
Crystal River, Fla.; Mr. Wendell C. Heaton, Tallahassee, Fla.
Although this program was not entirely to the liking of the commercial
fishermen, since they felt that the license fees were too low, and no provision
was made to take the Conservation Department out of politics, it was their be-
lief that jointly it could be implemented and the economic condition of the
commercial fisherman improved to some extent.
Although the fish dealers insisted on the changes made in the original pro-
gram and voted to support it, when it was attempted to get action to have the
necessary bills prepared, the matter was delayed. The Florida Wildlife Federation
asked the commercial fishermen to support a plan for a salt water fish commis-
sion composed of five men. A meeting was held on March 16, 1949 at St.
Petersburg. Commercial fishermen and fish dealers and the Florida Wildlife Fed-
eration were represented, the Florida Commercial Fisheries Association, the
Florida Wildlife Federation and the Florida Brotherhood of Fishermen
The purpose of this meeting was to bring the largest organized groups of
interested parties together in an attempt to reconcile differences of opinion and
to produce a unified program for the preparation of legislation on salt water
conservation to be presented at the Legislature in Tallahassee.
The Florida commercial fish dealers recommended that the appointment of
the Supervisor of Conservation be taken out of the hands of the Governor and
be made by a majority vote of the cabinet. They recommended that all fishing
laws be enforced and that the legislators give all local and special fishing laws
presented close attention and consideration before passage.
The Florida Wildlife Federation's proposal was to establish a Salt Water Fish
Commission, composed of five Commissioners. The dealers' delegates opposed
the setting up of a Salt Water Fish Commission. The Florida Brotherhood of
Fishermen would not approve the Commission plan unless some changes were
made, providing that at least two of the commissioners be experienced com-
mercial fishermen, that the commissioners have a per diem allowance, and that
the commission be guided by the findings of the Marine Laboratory of the Uni-
versity of Miami in promulgating their regulations. This was agreed on, and
drafts of the necessary legislation for presentation at the coming session of the
Legislature were ordered. The support of the Florida Wildlife Federation was
asked on three bills to be presented by the Florida Brotherhood of Fishermen.
(1) That resident commercial fishermen be licensed at $5.00 per year and that
alien or out of state commercial fishermen be licensed at $50.00 per year. (2)
That sport fishermen be licensed at $1.00 per year and that a reasonable bag
limit be imposed. (3) That the 6c gasoline tax on gas used in commercial fish-
ing craft be removed.
The Florida Wildlife Federation agreed to support these measures.
Despite these agreements the bills were not prepared as planned and none
was approved by the Legislature. Thus progress in improving our salt water
fisheries and the social and economic states of commercial fishermen has once
more been delayed.
Chairman-CLARENCE P. IDYLL, Research Associate,
Marine Laboratory, University of Miami,
Coral Gables, Florida.
Development of the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Compact
BERT E. THOMAS, Chairman, Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission
THE FORMATION of the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission is a subject
of vital importance to the fisheries of the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf of Mexico
stretches for more than 3,000 miles along the coasts of Florida, Alabama,
Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. Within the 716,000 square miles of water
there are tremendous resources in oysters, shrimp and many species of fish.
These resources enrich the diet of millions of Americans and are the means of
livelihood for thousands of citizens of the Gulf States.
For many years marine biologists and fisheries experts of the Gulf States have
felt that a greater degree of interstate cooperation in developing the Gulf Fisher-
ies resources would be of benefit to all of the Gulf States. The advantages to
be gained for these fisheries by linking the Gulf States together in a formal,
permanent compact was demonstrated clearly at the national Intercoastal Con-
ference held in Washington in May, 1946. This conference, attended by repre-
sentatives of the Gulf, Atlantic and Pacific coast states, was called to consider
the implications of a Presidential proclamation which had the effect of extending
the national interest in fisheries to the continental shelf and beyond. It was
apparent during the Conference that the states of the Atlantic Seaboard, through
the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission which they organized in 1942,
were in a strong position to safeguard their interests with respect to the Federal
government and international treaties and conventions. This unity has enabled
the Atlantic Coast States to develop effective, coordinated programs for in-
creasing their fisheries resources.
The three states bordering the Pacific Ocean perfected a similar compact in
1947, so that now the chain of interstate cooperation among the coastal states
forms a continuous band from the State of Maine around to the State of
Washington. There is much current talk concerning the organization of a fish-
eries compact among the states bordering the Great Lakes, and it is thought
that within the next year or two such a compact will, in all probability, be per-
At the request of the Gulf States the Council of State Governments called a
meeting of conservation and seafood agency officials from the Gulf area at New
Orleans on October 10, 1946. This meeting considered plans for establishing a
Gulf fisheries commission, and arranged to reconvene in New Orleans on
December 5-6th with the Attorneys General and Commissions on Interstate Co-
operation of the five states present. At the December meeting a preliminary
draft of a Gulf State Marine Fisheries Compact was prepared.
A final draft of the compact was completed on April 10-11, 1947, in New
Orleans. Present at this meeting were legislators, Attorneys General, conserva-
tion officials, fisheries representatives and Interstate Cooperation Commissioners.
The Compact was referred to the five states for enactment, a Continuing Con-
ference Committee was created to remain in existence until the Compact Com-
mission was organized formally and the Council of State Governments was
requested to serve the Conference Committee as secretariat during the period
prior to formal organization.
The purpose of the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Compact thus drafted was
declared to be: "To promote the better utilization of the fisheries, marine, shell
and anadromous, of the seaboard of the Gulf of Mexico, by the development
of a joint program for the promotion and protection of such fisheries and the
prevention of the physical waste of the fisheries from any cause." Briefly, it
is an advisory and recommending body composed of three representatives from
each of the member states.
The Commission is empowered to obtain necessary staff and officers and to
inquire into and report on methods, practices, circumstances and conditions
relative to the prevention of depletion and physical waste of the Gulf Fisheries.
It is empowered, also, to recommend the coordination of state police power
and to draft and recommend legislation to further the basic purposes of the
Compact. It is expected that the joint interstate commission created by the Com-
pact will prove to be an excellent medium for developing recommendations for
eliminating trade barriers affecting the Gulf States and their fishermen as a
result of licensing difficulties.
The Compact named the United States Fish and Wildlife Service as the pri-
mary research agency of the Commission, and designated that it cooperate with
the research agencies in each of the member states.
The financing provisions of the Compact are contained in Article 12. They
provide for an estimated initial working budget of $13,000, prorated among the
five Gulf States. This does not include travel costs and necessary expenses of the
three Commissioners from each state, since such costs are to be borne by the
respective member states, in a manner most acceptable to it.
Florida and Alabama adopted the Gulf Compact in 1947. Louisiana, during
the regular 1948 session of its Legislature, became the third member state. The
Texas Legislature passed the enabling act in 1949. It is hoped that Mississippi,
whose Legislature did not meet this year, will take similar action at the next
special session, or during the regular 1950 session, and thus complete the roster
of member states.
Under the provisions of Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution of the United
States, no two or more states can enter into a compact without the consent of
Congress. This consent was given by Public Law 66, 81st Congress, signed by
the President of the United States on May 19, 1949. On that day, the Gulf
States Marine Fisheries Commission came into being.
Arrangements for obtaining necessary legislation, and other activities affecting
the development of the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Compact have been
handled by the Continuing Conference Committee and the Council of State
Governments. Two meetings of the Continuing Conference Committee have
taken place since the Compact was drafted-at the Edgewater Gulf Hotel,
Edgewater, Mississippi, on May 27-28, 1948, and at New Orleans on October
A final meeting preparatory to the formal organization of the Compact Com-
mission was held at Montgomery, Alabama, on May 27, 1949. Representatives
of the five Gulf States met at that time as a Committee on Arrangements to
develop necessary plans for the signatory meeting at Mobile, Alabama, on
July 16, 1949. On that date the Commissioners of the member states met and
witnessed the formal signing of the Compact by Governor James E. Folsom of
Alabama. The machinery was thus set in motion to accomplish the purposes for
which the Compact was intended. An organizational meeting was held at
Houston, Texas on the 13th and 14th days of October, 1949, when rules and
regulations for the Commission's procedure were adopted. The services of a
permanent Secretary-Treasurer were secured and headquarters for the Commis-
sion was established at New Orleans, Louisiana. Arrangements were discussed
whereby our research agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, would place
in operation two vessels in the Gulf waters to conduct an intensive research and
In conclusion, it should be stated that great things are expected to arise out of
our Gulf States Compact. The intimate association with such an outstanding
organization as the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute and its splendid work
should prove of untold benefit to the Commission in its attempt to promote the
better utilization of the fisheries of the Gulf Seaboard. The Commission is look-
ing forward eagerly to a record of achievement. It is hoped that many vexing
problems which are common to the Gulf States can be solved by providing a
central forum where representatives of the states concerned can discuss these
problems until satisfactory answers are attained. A thorough program of
exploration and research should provide fisheries information which will be
invaluable to the commercial industry as well as to the State Conservation
Agencies which are charged by law with the duty of preserving and protecting
the marine, shell and anadromous fisheries of the Gulf of Mexico.
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and the
International Conference on the Northwestern Atlantic
WAYNE D. HEYDECKER, Secretary Treasurer
of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission
EARLY IN 1945 there was evidence of growing concern about possible increased
fishing pressure on stocks of fish supporting international fisheries like those on
the Newfoundland Banks. At the same time there were reports of possible future
treaties that might be negotiated with respect to such fisheries.
Accordingly the Executive Committee of the Commission, meeting in New
York on February 23, 1945, authorized the Chairman to appoint a committee
to inform the U.S. State Department of the interest of the Commission in such
matters and of its desire to participate therein. Such a committee was appointed
and it met with officials of the State Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service at the State Department on April 3, 1945. At that meeting the committee
urged the Department to establish some procedure for consultation with the
states on a regular basis with respect to conservation matters affecting the states
and cited as precedents the treaties affecting halibut, salmon, and migratory
birds and the treaty relating to the Great Lakes.
The committee pointed out the advisability of keeping the states continually
informed of progress on such matters because in the last analysis enforcement
and administration are best accomplished at the points of landing. After a full
discussion of these points no formal conclusions were reached, but no marked
differences of opinion developed.
In September of 1945, the Fourth Annual Meeting of the Commission
adopted unanimously a resolution patterned on one adopted in August by the
New York Joint Legislative Committee on Interstate Cooperation, asking the
creation of such a permanent channel of communication to the states. The
resolution is too long to present in full. Briefly, it recited the dangers that might
arise if states, in the protection of their own interests, were compelled to oppose
ratification of a treaty or to insist on crippling reservations, as has frequently
happened in the past. It urged the Council of State Governments and the
Governors Conference to use their influence to bring about a suitable permanent
method of consultation by the federal government with the states, on matters
which tend to impinge on the field of activities that have traditionally been the
function of state governments, and it asked the Commissions on Interstate Co-
operation in the several states to back this proposal.
It is interesting to note that on the same day in Washington, President Tru-
man issued two proclamations relating respectively to the mineral resources of
the continental shelf and the fisheries in waters contiguous to our coasts. The
latter proclamation asserted the propriety of unilateral action by the United
States to establish conservation zones for such fisheries developed by nationals
of the United States alone, and the willingness of the United States to establish
such conservation zones by joint action with our other governments where such
fishing activities have been or may hereafter be developed and maintained
jointly by nationals of the United States and of other nations. This fisheries
proclamation also conceded the right of other nations to establish conservation
zones in accordance with the principles above enunciated.
The assertion of national policy in such proclamation by the President gave
added emphasis to the request made by this Commission for the establishment
of an appropriate permanent liaison procedure between the federal government
and the coastal states, because the scope and content of any international agree-
ments that may be entered into are of vital concern to the coastal states, and are
matters on which they are entitled to be consulted and to participate in formu-
lating policy. Moreover, the effectiveness of the enforcement of the provisions
of any such international agreement depends in no small measure upon the
cooperation of the fishery administrations of the several states.
Further impetus to the movement for state participation in treaty making
initiated by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission was given by the
Exploratory Intercoastal Conference called by the Commission in Washington
on May 16 and 17, 1946. This conference was attended by representatives of
ten states from the Atlantic Coast, two from the Gulf Coast and two from the
Pacific Coast. Six of these states were also represented by their Attorneys Gen-
eral or their deputies. At this Intercoastal Conference a resolution was adopted
asserting that "under our federal system effective utilization of international
treaties is dependent on the development of federal state cooperation." Accord-
ingly the resolution went on to ask that in the steps leading up to the negotiation
of a treaty the states be consulted and that in the negotiations themselves and
in any international commission or agency established for regulatory or admin-
istrative purposes, the states be afforded opportunity to participate by suitable
With respect to all of these matters, it should be made clear beyond the
possibility of misunderstanding that the interest of this Commission and its
activities in this field of federal-state relationships have been inspired by no.