International Deficits in Fish: Implications for the Future of Fisheries Management

by Nick C. Parker

The import of fish and fishery products (U.S. $8.8 billion in 1987) into the United States in recent years has been exceeded in value only by the import of petroleum products ($16.5 billion in 1987). The value per unit weight of fish and fishery products increased steadily from 1982 to 1988, reflecting the growing demand in world markets. Records from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations show that the volume of fish and fish products traded among 167 nations w as about 14% greater than the volume produced, indicating multiple exchanges at the wholesale level before final sale to consumers.

The rapid expansion of the aquaculture industry to produce farm-raised catfish, salmon, shrimp, and other species has been driven by increased demands on finite stocks. The concentration of much of the world's population along seacoasts and inland waterways has resulted in loss of aquatic habitat, environmental degradation, and intense fishing pressure that have decimated many wild stocks. Resource managers and aquaculturists are evaluating both the risks and benefits of using introduced, transgenic, polyploid, hybrid, and reproductively sterile aquatic organisms to provide the fish and fisheries products demanded by world markets for food and recreation. The greatest challenge in fisheries management may be to maintain genetic stocks of native fishes and still provide the recreational fishing opportunities and food fish production demanded by growing world markets.

Reprinted from: Research Highlights - 1989. Texas Tech Department of Range and Wildlife Management 20:36.