Climate Variability, Climate Change and Fisheries - PDF Free Download (2022)

As we approach the end of the twentieth century, public and scientific attention is focusing increasingly on the detection and assessment of changes in our environment. This unique volume addresses the potential implications of global warming for fisheries and the societies which depend on them. Using a 'forecasting by analogy' approach, which draws upon experiences from the recent past in coping with regional fluctuations in the abundance or availability of living marine resources, it is shown how we might be able to assess our ability to respond to the consequences of future environmental changes induced by a potential global warming. Leading researchers and thinkers from disciplines as diverse as biology, anthropology, political science, and economics present a series of integrated case studies from around the globe to create a major work in this field.

Climate variability, climate change, and fisheries

Climate variability, climate change, and fisheries

Edited by MICHAEL H. GLANTZ National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado



CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, Sao Paulo Cambridge University Press The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 2RU, UK Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York Information on this title: © Cambridge University Press 1992 This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published 1992 This digitally printed first paperback version 2005 A catalogue recordfor this publication is available from the British Library ISBN-13 978-0-521-41440-1 hardback ISBN-10 0-521-41440-7 hardback ISBN-13 978-0-521-01782-4 paperback ISBN-10 0-521-01782-3 paperback

Contents Page 1 Introduction Michael H. Glantz


2 King crab dethroned Warren Wooster


3 The rise and fall of the California sardine empire Edward Ueber and Alex MacCall 4 El Nino and variability in the northeastern Pacific salmon fishery: implications for coping with climate change Kathleen A. Miller and David L. Fluharty 5 The US Gulf shrimp fishery Richard Condrey and Deborah Fuller


49 89

6 The menhaden fishery: interactions of climate, industry, and society Lucy E. Feingold


7 Maine lobster industry James M. Acheson


8 Human responses to weather-induced catastrophes in a west Mexican fishery James R. McGoodwin


9 Irruption of sea lamprey in the upper Great Lakes: analogous events to those that may follow climate warming Henry A. Regier and John L. Goodier


10 North Sea herring fluctuations R.S. Bailey and J.H. Steele


1 1 Atlanto-Scandian herring: a case study Andrei S. Krovnin and Sergei N. Rodionov


12 Global warming impacts on living marine resources: Anglo-Icelandic Cod Wars as an analogy Michael H. Glantz


1 3 Adjustments of Polish fisheries to changes in the environment Zdzislaw Russek


14 Climate-dependent fluctuations in the Far Eastern sardine population and their impacts on fisheries and society Tsuyoshi Kawasaki 15 The Peru-Chile eastern Pacific fisheries and climatic oscillation Cesar N. Caviedes and Timothy J. Fik



16 Climate change, the Indian Ocean tuna fishery, and empiricism Gary D. Sharp


17 Climate variability, climate change, and fisheries: a summary Michael H. Glantz and Lucy E. Feingold




Introduction MICHAEL H. GLANTZ

Environmental and Societal Impacts Group National Center for Atmospheric Research* Boulder, CO 80307, USA

During the past decade there has been considerable speculation about the possible consequences of a global warming of the atmosphere for terrestrial ecosystems. One of the latest surveys of such impa/cts was undertaken by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at the request of the US Congress in its search for policy options with respect to the possible anthropogenically induced climate change (US EPA, 1989). While freshwater ecosystems and two estuarine ecosystems (Apalachicola Bay in Florida and San Francisco Bay in California, USA) were included in this recent EPA survey, marine ecosystems were not. A more recent assessment undertaken by Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 1991) generated some speculation about possible climate change impacts on fish population and on aquatic life. This volume, Climate Variability, Climate Change, and Fisheries, addresses the potential implications for fisheries and societies of the regional impacts of a global warming of the atmosphere. Fisheries case studies were selected for investigation of the responses to changes in their environment. While most of these changes related to biological factors (that is, changes in the abundance of a fish population), some case studies related to abiotic factors, focusing on changes in the availability of fish (that is, a loss of access to commercially exploited fish stocks because of unilateral extensions by nations of their fishing jurisdictions). This study began with the identification of fisheries around the world (see Fig. 1.1) that have undergone changes in availability and abundance, with a preference for fisheries affected by such changes in the past few decades. Some of the cases, however, are * The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.


M.H. Glantz

classic ones (e.g., the collapse and reappearance of the Far Eastern sardine). Each chapter provides the general historical background of the fishery, the problems (or prospects) faced as the result of a natural or human-induced change in availability or abundance, and a set of possible lessons to societies that are directly or indirectly dependent on the exploitation of specific living marine resources. Maine Lobster

Icelandic Cod Wars Atlanto-Scandian Herring

Great Lakes Sea Lamprey

North Sea Herring

Atlantic Menhaden

Polish Long-distance Trawlers

Mexican Oysters

Indian Ocean Tuna

Pacific Northwest Salmon

Pacific Sardine Alaska King Crab

Fig. 1.1 Location of fisheries case studies. Adapted from Athelstan Spilhaus, "Whole Ocean Map," cited in Cousteau, 1981.

The approach taken is referred to as "forecasting by analogy." This is an attempt to forecast society's ability to respond to the consequences of yet-unknown environmental changes that might



occur in the future, by looking at societal responses to recent environmental as well as societal (e.g., legal) changes. Some of these changes have been long-term, low grade and cumulative, while others have been short-term and abrupt. This method of "forecasting" regional responses to the regional impacts of global climate change on the abundance or availability of living marine resources has been used in the absence, at this time, of reliable computer-generated regional climate impacts scenarios about the next several decades. Many studies have already been undertaken on various aspects of the effects of anthropogenic and environmental factors on the viability of specific living marine resources under contemporary climatic conditions (e.g., Troadec, 1990). Clearly, a good base of information is available with which to begin an assessment of the possible regional and local implications of a global atmospheric warming of a few degrees Celsius, as projected by general circulation modeling output. There are also many researchers whose expertise would place them in a good position to address questions about the interrelationship between global changes and fisheries, once they become aware that their research is relevant to global climate change issues. It is important to note that forecasting by analogy is not an attempt to assess the direct effects of a climate change on the biological aspects of living marine resources. A few such research efforts have already been undertaken (e.g., Bakun, 1990; Bardach & Santerre, 1981; Frye, 1983; Sharp & Csirke, 1983; Shepherd et al., 1984; US Department of Energy (US DOE), 1985; Fisheries, 1990). Fish populations are influenced by many elements of their natural environments during all phases of their life cycles. Subtle changes in key environmental variables such as temperature, salinity, wind speed and direction, ocean currents, and strength of upwelling, as well as those affecting predator populations, can sharply alter the abundance, distribution, and availability of fish populations. Human activities can also affect the sustainability of these populations through, for example, the application of a variety of different management schemes or new technologies, each of which could have a different (either beneficial or adverse) consequence for the state of the fishery, years, if not decades, into the future.


M.H. Glantz

Interactions within the marine environment are acknowledged to be extremely complex. The proposed sustained global warming of the atmosphere adds to that complexity. An obvious environmental effect of a global warming would be changes in sea surface temperatures, which, in turn, would have an effect on fish populations during all life stages. However, as a recent DOE report noted, "the production of fish biomass in the oceans is governed by interactions among numerous physical, chemical, and biological processes" (US DOE, 1985, p. 97), not just temperature. Surprises, that is, counter-intuitive responses of marine organisms, should not be ruled out. According to the DOE report (US DOE, 1985, p. 98), "Whatever CO2-induced climate-fisheries interactions occur on a global scale, there will be local areas or specific fisheries that display the opposite effects." Figures 1.2a and 1.2b depict in a generalized way some of the complexities associated with the direct and indirect effects of climate on the marine environment and on the life stages of fish populations. Thus, the relationship between climate change and fisheries will not be easy to define and most likely will have to depend, at least for the near future, on generalizations derived from case-by-case assessments of past and present experiences. Such assessments can provide first approximations or "guesstimates" about how fisheries might (not will) respond to climate-related environmental stresses, until we improve our understanding about how a global climate change will manifest itself in the regional marine environment. There has been considerable speculation about what a warming of the atmosphere by several degrees Celsius will do to regional climate and to human activities presently attuned to that climate. The basis for that speculation comes mainly from various atmospheric general circulation model (GCM) outputs as a result of sensitivity studies associated with the equivalent of a CO2 doubling. Speculation about future climate regimes has also been drawn from historical analogues such as the Medieval Optimum (about AD 800-1100) and the Little Ice Age (about 1550 to 1850), and from other paleoclimate analogues including the Altithermal (4,000-8,000 years ago), and epochs tens of thousands as well as millions of years ago when the earth's atmosphere was much warmer than it is at present. Other approaches to gain a glimpse of the future have also been pursued. For example, composites of the warmest Arctic summers







Fig. 1.2a Major climatic pathways affecting the abiotic environment of fishes. Increased atmospheric CO2 directly affects climate and dissolved CO2. CO2 indirectly affects seawater temperature, salinity, ice cover, turbulence, and currents. All of these abiotic effects have biotic consequences (US DOE, 1985).

have provided analogues to global warming based on the view that a global warming will be greatest in the polar regions (e.g., Jager & Kellogg, 1983). Even the various advanced GCMs yield somewhat divergent pictures of temperature and precipitation changes that will result from a warmer earth, especially when one compares their regional projections in detail (e.g., Schlesinger & Mitchell, 1987). This raises the troubling question about which GCM to use for climate-related impact analyses. There is also considerable disagreement about how a global average warming might translate into climate changes (i.e., temperature and precipitation) at the regional and local levels. At present the spatial resolution of general circulation models of the atmosphere is too coarse for the generation of regional scenarios that can be useful for reliable and credible social impact assessment. In addition, none of these GCMs as yet has defined an effective oceanic component. This, however, has in no way hindered speculation about regional and local climate changes and their socioeconomic impacts. In the absence of such scenarios, we have relied on the historical record in an attempt to forecast societal responses to climate change by analogy.


M.H. Glantz


• Temp . Ice

Fig. 1.2b Major biotic processes affecting fish production and the abiotic factors that modify these processes. The four major hypotheses concerning control of fishery abundance are related to the major processes controlling production and mortality of early life history stages: reproductive output, starvation, predatory (including cannibalistic) losses, and transport losses. To represent an actual fishery environment, several such interlocking diagrams would be needed to depict multiple species (US DOE, 1985). Since regional climatic changes that might be associated with a global warming are not yet well understood, there is a need to produce information that will be of value regardless of the magnitude (or direction) of those changes. In this regard, forecasting by analogy might be viewed as providing a win/win approach (as opposed



to win/lose) to researchers as well as policymakers. It underscores the value of improving our understanding about how societies respond to environmental stress. It provides decisionmakers with baseline information about how well societies have responded to the consequences of past environmental changes, even in the absence of an anthropogenically induced warming of the atmosphere. Whether the atmosphere warms, cools or stays as it has been for the past several decades, it is important to improve our understanding of the interactions between human activities and climate variability. The information gathered in these and other forecasting by analogy studies around the globe (e.g., Glantz, 1988; Antal & Glantz, 1988; Magalhaes & Neto, 1989; Ninh et al, 1991) can be used to develop ways to mitigate the societal impacts of a variable climate at the regional level. Analogies have been used to perform a variety of functions, some of which are as follows: (1) For general education: analogies can be used to educate nonspecialists about some aspects of a complex situation by making reference to a different situation about which they already have some information. (2) To educate researchers: more sophisticated analogies can be identified to enable researchers to better understand changes in processes, interrelationships, and sensitivities that might conceivably accompany a global warming. (3) To parameterize complex processes: analogues are used in numerical modeling where there is a need to include important processes related to atmospheric circulation in the model. As a result, there are simple "base" analogies that can be used to generate information about "target" analogies, or at least serve as adequate place holders in the models until those processes become better understood. (4) To forecast future states of systems, such as the atmosphere or society: while an analogy may be used for any one of a variety of purposes, a troublesome use is to forecast a state of the atmosphere or of society several decades into the future. It can, however, be used to make other kinds of projections about the nature of different types of societal responses to cope with a variety of plausible (but not necessarily probable) future regional climatic changes. (5) To generate policy options or responses: plausibility of a physical or societal analogy is not a sufficient condition for use by policymakers, because several plausible but contradictory policies could be formulated based on different analogues drawn from the same pool of ob-


M.H. Glantz

jective scientific information. Analogies, however, can be used to identify policy needs in order to eliminate shortcomings in societal responses to environmental change. (6) To fulfill a psychological need: when confronted by unknown situations, analogies can provide us with a feeling of understanding. They provide a first step toward knowing or at least considering the unknown. Using analogies to gain a glimpse of the future can be advantageous in several ways. Analogies provide a wealth of detail, an ease of communication. Yet, analogies can be developed without a need to provide all details; they can be presented from the perspective of an individual, a sector, a level of government, etc. Even when they are not consistent, they could serve to illuminate different aspects of the future. Also, analogies are conducive to communication, thereby inviting questions and discussions about what can or cannot be told about the future. To summarize, analogies are an integral part of both physical and social science research with regard to the global warming issue (Glantz, 1991). Analogies are useful heuristic devices that can enhance our understanding. Almost every aspect of the global warming dialogue, from the projection of future production of radiatively active trace gases to the effects of global warming on society, must be explicitly recognized as having been based on analogy. Given the current state of uncertainty surrounding the implications for atmospheric processes, the environment, and societies of an increased loading of the atmosphere with radiatively active trace gases, it is essential that we examine the analogies we use. There are, however, problems with the use of analogies. First of all, the reason behind making the analogy must be made clear or the analogy will be viewed as either irrelevant, misapplied, or misleading when judged from other perspectives. Secondly, there may be a tendency to "strain" an analogy; one must not read more into it than is there; one must not downplay or ignore important dissimilarities; one must remember that an analogy will not be a perfect replication of what might be expected. Thirdly, sometimes we are forced to make analogies that are inappropriate for cultural or historical reasons. Finally, plausible but mutually inconsistent scenarios can be developed (see, for example, Jamieson, 1988). Scenarios about future worlds based on human experience have the political and social credibility that computer-generated see-



narios lack. Decisionmakers who have been directly involved in problems generated by climatic anomalies of the recent past have already been using that experience as a guide to dealing with current issues. Such experience is being passed on to future decisionmakers, just as the experiences of the 1930s US Great Plains drought or the California sardine or Peruvian anchoveta collapse have been (and continue to be) carried from one generation to the next. Some atmospheric scientists have argued that the climate of the future will not be like the climate of the past. Therefore, they contend that the past cannot be seriously considered as a useful guide to the future. However, societal responses to regional climate in the near future will most likely be similar to societal responses to the climate-related environmental changes of the recent past. Recent societal responses to variable climatic conditions might provide useful insights into how best to cope with such conditions at least in the near future. Forecasting society's ability to cope with the impacts of climatic variations and change can be achieved through this method. Researchers can identify strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures in the way societies have responded to events that are most likely to recur in the future. Societies can then reduce the weaknesses while capitalizing on the strengths to mitigate those impacts in the future.* This volume presents a set of case studies from around the world representing a variety of fisheries. Although given some broad guidelines, each contributor to this volume was allowed considerable flexibility in his or her approach to develop the case studies and to identify possible insights into potential societal responses to global warming. Wooster's chapter on the Alaska king crab discusses the development and collapse of this important fishery. It also identifies management responses to the collapse with the expectation that there are lessons for fisheries managers responding to the impacts of global warming in the Gulf of Alaska/Bering Sea region. * For example, a recent study (Glantz, 1988) using the forecasting-by-analogy approach assessed 10 North American case studies. Five of the climate-related environmental changes considered have occurred since the first workshop was held in June 1987.


M.H. Glantz

The California sardine fishery has become part of American folklore as a result of the writings of John Steinbeck. Ueber and MacCall describe this classic case of a fishery collapse. The chapter underscores an improvement in the way living marine resources are managed. It also shows how the collapse of the California sardine fishery spawned the rapid development of major fisheries in South Africa and in Peru. Miller and Fluharty's chapter is centered on the regional implications of the 1982-83 El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event and focuses on the difficulties of separating economic pressures on fish populations from environmental ones. Their study also points out how a decline in one area can be accompanied by a sharp increase in fish landings in other adjacent regions. Condrey and Fuller investigated the history of the Gulf shrimp fishery. They view this fishery as a classic example of an openaccess fishery which has been allowed to expand beyond the point of maximum long-term economic benefit. A resource that had been viewed as limitless has in recent decades been threatened by fishing pressures as well as habitat destruction and occasional low streamflow in the Mississippi River. Although Atlantic menhaden have been uncommon as a food fish, they have several industrial uses. Feingold points out in her chapter that society has had a direct effect on the fortunes of the menhaden fishery as a result, for example, of zoning laws that govern the location of processing plants, of intentional changes in coastal and estuarine habitats, and of increased demands for menhaden-based products. Everyone associates lobsters with the US State of Maine. In fact, the lobster has been "immortalized" by serving as a graphic design on Maine's license plate. Acheson has reviewed the lobster industry during its decline in the first half of the twentieth century in order to identify possible lessons for changes in lobster availability or abundance that might be associated with global warming. McGoodwin's chapter on the Mexican oyster fishery evaluates societal responses to adverse changes in the availability of harvestable mollusks along Mexico's south Sinaloan coast. Changes in demographics in this region since the turn of the century have made traditional responses to losses in oyster productivity no longer viable. McGoodwin suggests ways that local fishermen can



maintain a degree of flexibility in response to potential environmental changes that might accompany a climate change. The Great Lakes, considered the "fifth coast" of North America (along with the Atlantic, Pacific, Caribbean and Arctic; for a discussion of this concept see Ashworth, 1987), is the geographic field of research by Regier and Goodier. They investigated the history of the sea lamprey in the Great Lakes as a possible analogue to some unpredictable consequences of global warming. Just as an ecosystem can be caused to undergo serious restructuring with an intrusion of a parasitic species, climate-related environmental changes can also prompt ecosystem restructuring. Bailey and Steele assessed the North Sea herring, one of the world's most important living marine resources that has supported major fisheries in many northwest European countries for centuries. Their chapter addresses the role of environmental changes as well as the role of perceptions held in management organizations and the fishing industry in this stock's collapse in the mid-1970s. A Soviet contribution was provided by Krovnin and Rodionov, scientists at the All-Union Research Institute of Marine Fisheries and Oceanography (VNIRO) in the USSR. Their study focused on changes in Atlanto-Scandian herring during the warmer decades of the the 1920s and 1930s. They suggest that a global warming might be favorable for the development of the Atlanto-Scandian herring fishery. The next two chapters are somewhat different in that they are not based on changes in the physical environment but in the political setting in which fisheries must operate. The first of these by Glantz uses the Anglo-Icelandic conflicts (several of which were referred to as the Cod Wars) as a surrogate for societal responses to changes in the availability of cod. Iceland and UK came into conflict over the exploitation of this valuable resource as a direct result of a series of unilateral extensions by Iceland of its territorial waters between 1952 and 1976. Russek's chapter assesses the impacts of the creation and implementation of the 200-mile exclusive economic zones (EEZs) by coastal nations worldwide. Poland's long-distance fishing industry was forced to adjust to this precipitous shock or face extinction. This chapter documents how Poland's fleet managed to survive a loss in availability of living marine resources that resulted from international legal decisions.


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The history of the Far Eastern sardine fishery extends back at least to the early 1600s. Kawasaki reports on the rise and collapse and rise again of this fishery. The chapter discusses the impacts of these changes in abundance of the Far Eastern sardine population not only in Japan but in Korea and the USSR as well. He notes that coastal communities dependent on the exploitation of this fish population should prepare for the eventuality of yet another decline. He also compares some aspects of this fishery with those of California and Peru. Caviedes and Fik address the implications of ENSO events for fisheries along the western coast of South America. They conclude that ENSO has a clear and major impact on regional fisheries, specifically the anchoveta in Peruvian waters and the sardine along the Chilean coast. They also highlight the importance of improving ENSO forecasts so that fisheries could be better managed in the face of this recurrent environmental change. Caviedes and Fik suggest a need for regional cooperation in the management of the fisheries of these two countries. In the final case study, about western Indian Ocean tuna, Sharp discusses the development of the tuna fishery around the Seychelles Plateau. He assesses why this fishery thrives, while similar fisheries in other oceans in recent decades have either been marginally successful or have failed. He then compares the development of the tuna fisheries of the Seychelles and the Maldives. The concluding section presents a summary of the highlights of each of the case studies and serves as an "executive summary." The information in this section has been drawn from the chapters, as prepared by the contributing authors, with the general findings prepared by Glantz and Feingold. As a final comment on the forecasting by analogy approach, it is important to note that the purpose of looking back is neither to identify the exact types of climate changes that societies must prepare for nor is it to put emphasis on the most recent aberrations of climate as the most likely forecasts of future climate. The purpose is to determine how flexible (or rigid) societies are or have been in dealing with climate-related environmental changes. We must be aware of past events but we must not get drawn into preparing for them. Societies everywhere have already shown the propensity to prepare for the last climate anomaly by which they were affected. However, such anomalies seldom seem to recur in



the same place, with the same intensity, or with the same societal impacts. Decisions today must take into consideration the need to maintain as much flexibility as practicable in the face of future unknowns. Acknowledgments I would like to acknowledge the consistent editorial support and coordination activities of Maria Krenz, without which this publication would have remained "in press" for a long time. I would also like to thank Jan Stewart, who has been integrally involved in the production of various drafts of the manuscript. Her technical skills in the TgX formatting language enabled us to produce the final camera-ready copy for publication. Also, I want to express my sincere appreciation to my research assistant, Lucy Feingold, who was instrumental in organizing the climate andfisheriesworkshop that launched this research project, and to the contributors to this book for their interest and enthusiasm, as well as their patience and perseverance in the preparation of their manuscripts for publication. Financial support for this project came from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA) and the Environmental Protection Agency's Climate Change Division. Finally, I would like to thank Sara Trevitt at Cambridge University Press for her editorial support during this project. References Antal, E. & Glantz, M.H. (Eds.) (1988). Identifying and Coping with Extreme Meteorological Events. Budapest: Hungarian Meteorological Service. Ashworth, W. (1987). The Late, Great Lakes: An Environmental History. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. Bakun, A. (1990). Global climate change and intensification of coastal ocean upwelling. Science, 247, 198-201. Bardach, J.E. & Santerre, R.M. (1981). Climate and the fish in the sea. BioScience, 31, 206-15. Cousteau, J.-Y. (1981). The Cousteau Almanac: An Inventory of Life on Our Water Planet. New York: Dolphin Books. Fisheries (1990). (The entire issue No. 6 is dedicated to the effects of global climate change on fisheries resources.) Frye, R. (1983). Climatic change and fisheries management. Natural Resources Journal, 23, 77-96.


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Glantz, M.H. (Ed.) (1988). Societal Responses to Regional Climatic Change: Forecasting by Analogy. Boulder: Westview Press. Glantz, M.H. (1991). The use of analogies in forecasting ecological and societal responses to global warming. Environment, 33, 10-4 and 27-33. IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) (1991). Climate Change: The IPCC Impacts Assessment. Report from Working Group II to IPCC. Geneva: World Meteorological Organization/UN Environment Programme. Jager, J. & Kellogg, W.W. (1983). Anomalies in temperature and rainfall during warm Arctic seasons. Climatic Change, 5, 39-60. Jamieson, D. (1988). Grappling for a glimpse of the future. In Societal Responses to Regional Climatic Change: Forecasting by Analogy, ed. M.H. Glantz, pp. 73-93. Boulder: Westview Press. Magalhaes, A.R. & Neto, E.B. (1989). Impactos sociais e economicos de variacoes climaticas e respostas governamentais no Brasil. Programa das Nagoes Unidas para O Meio-Ambiente. Fortaleza: Secretaria de Planejamento e Coordenagao do Ceara. Ninh, N.H., Glantz, M.H. & Hien, H.M. (1991). Case Studies of Climate-Related Impact Assessment in Vietnam. UNEP Project Document No. FP/4102-884102. Nairobi: United Nations Environment Programme. Schlesinger, M.E. & Mitchell, J.F.B. (1987). Climate model simulations of the equilibrium climatic response to increased carbon dioxide. Reviews of Geophysics, 25, 760-98. Sharp, G.D. & Csirke, J. (1983). Proceedings of the Expert Consultation to Examine Changes in Abundance and Species Composition of Ncritic Fish Resources. Workshop in San Jose, Costa Rica, 18-29 April 1983. Rome: FAO Fisheries Report 291, Vols. 2-3. Shepherd, J.G., Pope, J.G. & Cousens, R.D. (1984). Variations in fish stocks and hypotheses concerning their links with climate. Rapports et ProcesVerbaux des Reunions. Conseils International pour VExploration de la Mer, 185, 255-67. Troadec, J.-P. (Ed.) (1990). Man, Marine Fishery and Aquaculture Ecosystems (in French). Paris: IFREMER. US DOE (Department of Energy) (1985). Characterization of Information Requirements for Studies of CO2 Effects: Water Resources, Agriculture, Fisheries, Forests, and Human Health. DOE/ER-0236. Washington, DC: Carbon Dioxide Research Division, US DOE. US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) (1989). Policy Options for Stabilizing Global Climate. Three-Volume Draft Report to Congress. Washington, DC: Office of Policy, Planning, and Evaluation, US EPA.

King crab dethroned WARREN S. WOOSTER School of Marine Affairs University of Washington Seattle, WA 98195, USA

Introduction The king crab stock in the eastern north Pacific (eastern Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska; see Fig. 2.1) has varied nearly tenfold in abundance in the last 25 years (Hayes, 1983). Since the late 1960s, the fishery has been the second most valuable Alaskan seafood industry, exceeded in value only by the combined six salmonid species harvested in Alaska (Hanson, 1987). I6O C

70°N I7O°W \


Jf^'^&Xs-^ Ocean


-^ ^ ^Arctic Circle



^ " ?


1 I


Bering Sea


/ ^ [Zs

William Sound

Bristol Bay 7 (v J Dutch ,—^f ^) Harbor^ ^ Q f V ^ ^ " " ^




Fig. 2.1 Map of the study area.


W.S. Wooster

The small Alaskan port of Dutch Harbor, a major center for crab processing, was in 1979 the number one US fishing port in dollar volume, handling seafood valued at more than the combined landings of the North American ports of Seattle, Astoria, Ketchikan, Newport, Westport, Charleston, Coos Bay, and Eureka (McLafferty, 1980). However, by 1982 Dutch Harbor was "beginning to look like a ghost town" (Anon., 1983).* The change took place in 1981, when stock abundance fell precipitously; it has recovered only very slowly since then (Fig. 2.2). Stocks of other king crabs (blue, brown) also shrank as did Tanner crabs. The reasons for the collapse have not been established although various explanations have been offered, including overfishing, predation, disease, and environmental change. Evidence for none of these is very convincing. That the cause was some sort of environmental change is suggested by the widespread nature of the decline including several species in both the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska. 1




Western Areas








Fig. 2.2 Alaska king crab landings from Central and Western areas. Data from Hanson, 1987 (his Table 2.1). Central includes Prince William Sound, Lower Cook Inlet, Kodiak Island, and South Peninsula. Western includes Bristol Bay, Dutch Harbor, Adak, and eastern Bering Sea. By 1988, Dutch Harbor was back to second place in US landings (D. Bevan, personal communication).

King crab fishery 17

Whatever its cause, collapse of the fishery led to economic disaster. The fleet was too large, many vessels were heavily leveraged, and most owners were unable to pay their bills. Unprecedented prices, resulting from low production, threatened loss of all but the luxury markets. Fishermen were faced with foreclosure or diversification - and funds for the latter were scarce (Sabella, 1982). Yet, the eventual solution for the industry was the transfer of effort and investment to other resources. This is not the first fishery crisis caused by the disappearance of a resource, nor will it be the last. Indeed, such collapses may be more frequent in a future of drastically changed climate. Are there lessons in how the industry responded to this set of events? Could the fishery have been managed more effectively (1) to prevent the collapse, (2) to anticipate the collapse more effectively, or (3) to mitigate the economic and social cost of the collapse? Will there continue to be other resources to absorb the energies of the industry?

Biological and oceanographic background Three species of king crab are harvested in the eastern North Pacific: • Paralithodes camtschatica (red); • Paralithodes platypus (blue) ; • Lithodes aequispina (brown). Of these, red king crab is by far the most important and occurs on the shelf in the eastern Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands, edge of the Gulf of Alaska to SE Alaska, and northern British Columbia.* While adults feed offshore and migrate inshore for spawning, juveniles are found in the littoral zone and shallow water. In the Bering Sea, adults prefer bottom temperatures of 0° to 5.5°C, suggesting a temperature influence on distribution. Molting and spawning take place in shallow (10-50m) waters in late winter and early spring. Males molt in March-April, females just before spawning in April-May (see Fig. 2.3). Eggs, 50,000 to 400,000 in number, are attached to females and develop for 11 months, normally hatching in April-May (timing can vary by This summary of king crab biology is based mainly on Hayes, 1983.


W.S. Wooster

more than one month in different years). Five successive larval stages live as plankton in the water column for a total of about six weeks, then settle to the bottom. KING CRAB LIFE HISTORY (Paralithodes camtschatica) MAR FEB JAN

(Video) Webinar: Predicting Near-Term Fisheries Shifts Under Climate Change


APR Inshore Spawning' Migration


Fig. 2.3 Schematic of king crab life history. (From Hayes, 1983.)

During the first year of growth, juveniles are solitary in relatively shallow water; during the first two to four years they are often in shallow water in dense "pods." King crabs, even adults, tend to segregate by size, sex, and molt condition. Growth is discontinuous at times of molts. In the absence of a method for direct aging, growth is studied by determining the frequency of molts and the increment of growth per molt. Animals reach about 78 mm in four years and can then be tagged without loss during molt. King crabs enter the fishery at age eight. They grow to about 200 mm in 11 years and there is some molt skipping by males from 145 mm in size. King crab are bottom-foraging omnivores; there appear to be no significant differences in diets between sexes and sizes of adults. Major food includes starfish, clams, and other mollusks, as well as small crabs, shrimps, other crustaceans, worms, fish, and algae. Predators on king crab include yellowfin sole, Pacific cod, walleye pollock, and halibut (Fukuhara, 1985; Larkin et al., 1990). In view of this life history, ocean conditions on the inner shelf of the eastern Bering Sea, eastern Aleutians, and Kodiak Island in

King crab fishery 19

the winter and spring probably influence, and perhaps determine, the success of recruitment. The eastern Bering Sea is divided into three domains separated by fronts (Fig. 2.4a,b) which are a function of depth and differ in circulation and vertical mixing (Schumacher & Reed, 1983). Crab eggs, larvae, and juveniles appear to be mostly within the coastal domain where tidal mixing exceeds buoyancy input, where water away from river mouths is mixed vertically, and where the average flow is to the northeast along the Alaska Peninsula and northward along isobaths east of the inner front (Fig. 2.5a,b). Flow is affected by wind events but is principally geostrophic and is driven by interaction of the tides with bathymetry. There is important interannual variability in wind stress, especially in the winter, and in its effects on temperature and ice coverage (up to 80% coverage in March). In the Gulf of Alaska, the prevailing circulation is westward along the Alaska Peninsula (the Alaska Stream offshore, the Alaska Coastal or Kenai Current inshore) with some flow through Unimak Pass into the Bering Sea (Fig. 2.5b). The coastal circulation is wind driven, coupled with freshwater input along the coast. There is interannual variability in winds and rainfall and runoff with effects on currents, temperature, and salinity. Larval development, hence recruitment success, can be affected by interannual changes in transport of larvae to favorable grounds for settling, in temperature which determines the duration of larval periods, and in food supply, for example as determined by the timing and location of the spring plankton bloom (Larkin et al., 1990). Early history of the fishery The commercial harvest of king crab in the eastern Bering Sea began with a Japanese fishery in 1930 (Otto, 1981). Between then and 1939, when the fishery closed with the start of World War II, nearly eight million crabs were taken. Meanwhile, in 1940 the US Congress appropriated funds for Alaska fish surveys, and Lowell Wakefield began to can crab near Kodiak (Blackford, 1979). But the US fishery, which started as a supplement to salmon and halibut, did not really begin until 1947. Until 1965, only Wakefield's deep sea converted trawler (140 ft - 42.7m), with processing on board, was specialized for the fishery. Most of the fleet was much


56°N -


54°N -





-150 km•500km-














C * Wind






Fig. 2.4 (a) Hydrographic domains and fronts over the southeast Bering Sea shelf, and (b) schematic interpretation of energy balance, fresh and salt water fluxes, and vertical structure. (From Schumacher & Reed, 1983.)

King crab fishery 21


60° -

2000 -DEPTHS ( m ) \





60^ -

55°N -i




Fig. 2.5 Schematic of long-term mean circulation (a) in the eastern Bering Sea and (b) in the Gulf of Alaska. The Kenai Current is also known as the Alaska Coastal Current. (From Schumacher & Reed, 1983.)


W.S. Wooster

smaller (Alaska-limit boats were 58 ft - 17.7 m) and included some ex-sardine seiners (refugees from the collapsed California sardine fishery). In 1965, of 190 vessels in the fishery, 120 were less than 60 ft (18.3 m). While the Bering Sea was the site of the first development of significant crab fisheries, attention was soon redirected to the waters around Kodiak where Wakefield had pioneered and, prior to 1969, the Kodiak fishery dominated the harvest. However, after a widespread decline in abundance in 1970, the major fishery returned to the eastern Bering Sea where it has remained. The Japanese, using tangle-nets, returned to the Bering Sea in 1953 where they dominated crab catches until 1970. From 1959 through 1971, a similar Soviet fishery operated. These foreign operations were affected by the Law of the Sea Convention of 1958, where the coastal state gained jurisdiction over resources of the continental shelf, including "organisms which, at the harvestable stage ... are unable to move except in constant physical contact with the sea bed or the subsoil." While the US and the USSR were parties to the Convention, Japan was not and, in any case, considered that crabs were living resources of the high seas rather than creatures of the shelf (Miles et al., 1982). A series of bilateral agreements with Japan and the USSR permitted some control over catches and, with the 1977 extensions of national jurisdiction overfisheriesresulting from general acceptance of the living resource provisions eventually incorporated in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, foreign fishing in the US zone was no longer permitted. The use of nets is now outlawed (tangle-nets since 1954 and trawls from the mid-1960s) because they were so destructive to illegals (females and immature males). The fishery has since been carried out with pots (traps); modern pots are 7-8 ft2 (0.7 m2), 30-36 inches (76-91 cm) deep and weigh 300-800 lbs (136-360 kg) (with crab, they can weigh as much as 1,500 lbs - 680 kg). In order to prevent continued fishing when the pots are lost, pots contain a degradable panel intended to terminate catching and holding ability within six months. When the pot is aboard, females and sublegal males are returned to the sea. Crab are transported to processors in live tanks which exchange water every 20-30 minutes. Water and crab sloshing in these tanks can cause severe stability problems, as do the heavy loads of pots carried on deck.

King crab fishery 23

History of the stock The king crab population consists of many relatively independent stock units. At least two red and three blue king crab stocks are recognized in the eastern Bering Sea. Statistics often combine several stock units and sometimes more than one species. While fishery stock assessment is commonly based on catches, this is particularly difficult in the king crab fishery. Factors complicating stock assessment include (1) rapid development of the fishery in the late 1940s and 1950s, so landings are a poor index of abundance in that period; (2) catch is always much larger than landings, and the mortality of returned females and sublegals is poorly known; and (3) there is no method to determine age other than size composition. However, on a relative basis, data on size composition of commercial catches are used to determine the proportion of "recruit" crabs, a rough approximation of year-class strength. For assessment purposes, regular systematic trawl surveys began in eastern Bering Sea in 1955 and have continued ever since, except for a five-year hiatus in 1962-66. Pot surveys have been made at Kodiak since 1971. The trawl survey pattern was extended from 1958 and covers from the Bristol Bay to the Gulf of Anadyr and Chukchi Sea. From 1971, the station pattern was expanded to include other king and Tanner crab stocks. The surveys allow determination of species composition, sex, carapace size, shell age; in pot surveys, tagged crabs are released and used to estimate population size and estimates of fishery yields for the succeeding one to two years (Hayes, 1983). The king crab population has varied enormously. In the eastern Bering Sea, for example, legal males have ranged from near 50 million crab at peak in 1978-79 to a low of a few million in 198283. Prior to 1969, the Kodiak fishery dominated the harvest. The first boom was in the mid-1960s (Hanson, 1987) but by 1969, the Kodiak fishery was down, never (as yet) to return to earlier levels (Fig. 2.2). There seems to have been a major decline in abundance similar to that which occurred a decade later. Kodiak fishermen switched to the Bering Sea where new stocks were developed. A big growth in harvesting and processing capacity preceded the collapse in early 1980s.


W.S. Wooster

Management of the king crab fishery Regulations were first promulgated by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in 1941 and included size limits on male crab, prohibition against landing females or soft-shelled crab, and the requirement for recording landings (Otto, 1986). Management objectives included the following: to protect reproductive potential, to prevent waste, to maintain product quality, and to optimize size at harvest. Fishing was prohibited during molting/mating periods (March-May), allowing a period of growth for newly molted crab. There were prohibitions against trawls and tangle-nets to reduce the handling mortality of females and sublegal males. Management areas recognize distinctions among Alaskan stocks. Regulatory measures established since 1969 have a set of goals and regulations known as "size-sex-season" management. Big declines in landings in the period 1966-70 resulted in the perception that management measures were inadequate, so additional goals emphasizing biological and economic stability were adopted, with quotas by management area and a system of exclusive area registration (indirect effort control). Pot limits also control effort to some extent and maintain stability as well as protecting local industry by favoring small boats (see below). Management appears to be highly conservative in its prohibition of harvesting females and smaller mature males despite the lack of evidence that recruitment is affected thereby. In part, these restrictions are intended to benefit processors who prefer the larger males; also, through providing for a multiple year-class fishery, they attempt to ensure stable production. King crab regulations are more restrictive than those for other North American crab fisheries and affect allocations as well as conservation (Otto, 1986). A federal Fishery Management Plan for the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands was developed in 1984 but has only recently been implemented; it includes various social, economic, and administrative goals (Anon., 1988). A special feature of Alaska king crab management is that, despite the leading role of the federal fishery management system established by the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976, the fishery continues to be managed largely by Alaskans for the benefit of Alaskans. The Alaskan fishery is conducted largely by small vessels using shoreside processors in contrast to the Seattle fleet consisting of large

King crab fishery 25

vessels with on-board processing; Seattle is the financial and logistical center of the fishery. In view of the successful moves to exclude foreign fishing after 1977, it is ironic that both the Alaskan shoreside processing plants and the Seattle distant-water fleet are increasingly foreign owned.

The crash and its consequences There was a tremendous growth in Alaskan harvests from 1969 through 1980, especially in Bristol Bay where harvests rose from 8.6 million pounds (3.9 million kg) in 1970 to 130 million pounds (59 million kg) in 1980. Within three years, the fishery collapsed and the Bristol Bay fishery closed. The stock collapsed after 1980 for unknown reasons. In view of the conservative management policies, it was not likely to have resulted from overfishing. However, it has been suggested (Larkin et al., 1990) that the removal of large males and the inadequacy of the remaining small males in performing their conjugal duties weakens the ability of the population to recover after several years of poor recruitment. Disease or predators (e.g., increases in fin fish such as Pacific cod) have also been proposed as possible causes. A more probable explanation is environmental change favoring poor recruitment and affecting the subarctic ecosystem (both the eastern Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska). This is suggested by the observation that declines in red king crab were found in prerecruit males and brood stock females as well as legal males, and in Kodiak and Dutch Harbor as well as the eastern Bering Sea. Similar declines occurred in blue king crab and in Bering Sea Tanner stocks (especially bairdi). Whatever the cause, there was a rapid decline in abundance of red king crab and a very slow recovery. Because of scarcity, nominal wholesale and retail prices tripled between 1980 and 1986. Between 1980 and 1983, ex-vessel revenues to fishermen fell by US$93.2 million, more than 50 percent; processor sales dropped US$178 million (60%), sales from wholesalers dropped by US$304 million (66%) (Hanson et al., 1988). Comparable losses were felt by associated industries such as shipyards and lending institutions. For example, as the US fishery grew, especially in 1970s, the fleet was overcapitalized with too many boats including expensive large crabbers/processors. After


W.S. Wooster

the collapse, fishermen had great difficulty in meeting their payments and bankruptcies were common. Only 32 percent of total shellfish revenues are returned to Alaska, much of the remaining 68 percent being spent in the Seattle area for vessel maintenance/construction, gear and supplies, general consumer goods (Anon., 1983). Most processing and cold storage firms are based in the Seattle area. As noted earlier, generally, small boats and shore processing are characteristic in Alaska, whereas large boats and at-sea processing come from Seattle. An important element in the politics of king crab (and other Alaskan fisheries) is the competition and controversy between Alaskan and Seattle-based components of the industry (Miles, 1989). Response of the industry to the crash was threefold: (1) shift to replacement species - other king crabs (blue, brown), Tanners (bairdi, opilio); (2) shift to other grounds (e.g., St. Matthews); (3) shift to other fisheries, especially groundfish. (1) Replacement species: Blue and brown king crab were the initial targets. The stocks were much smaller than the red king crab, and the blue stock also rapidly declined. Brown king crab is much harder to catch, occurring as deep as 400 m on steep slopes, with lower catch rates and more gear lost, and is less marketable. Attention was also directed to Tanner crab which is generally less desirable. The larger species (bairdi) declined; the small species (opilio) continues to be abundant but commands a much lower price and cannot really be considered a replacement. (2) Other grounds: Large vessels, especially those with processing capability, are more mobile than small ones. However, fishing on declining stocks in remote areas quickly led to increased cost of production. (3) Other fisheries: Collapse of the king crab fishery coincided with growing US interest in Alaska groundfish stocks, then fished primarily by foreigners. The initial US development was in joint ventures, in which US trawlers, some converted from crabbers at costs averaging US$700,000 per vessel (McNair, 1982), caught groundfish (especially pollock) and transferred cod-ends at sea to foreign processors. In related developments, US efforts were made (e.g., with Arctic Trawler) to catch, process (at sea), and market cod fillets. US processing (at sea) was later extended to pollock fillets, and US surimi and minced fish processing and marketing were subsequently developed.

King crab fishery 27

Fishing for pollock is much less lucrative than fishing for crab. "A $3 million crab boat can't afford to fish Shelikov at US$0.04 [per pound], much less the Bering Sea" (Anon., 1983). It is ironical that pollock bought for US$0.04 per pound returns as artificial crab at US$2.25 to US$3 per pound. In 1982, more artificial crab (kanibo) was imported from Japan than was real king crab produced in Alaska. Since the collapse, the US harvesting sector has expanded to harvest the total Alaska groundfish optimum yield, but US processing and marketing are inadequate to handle all of the product, so the industry remains heavily dependent on foreign (Japan) markets (Miles, 1989). The fleet has been transformed to handle a high-volume, low-value product. While it could presumably revert when the king crab population is restored, the cost of reconversion is likely to be high.

Was management effective? By most criteria, management of the king crab fishery must be seen as a failure. Abundance of the resource was reduced to a very low level, the fishery collapsed, and great financial losses were incurred by many participants in the fishery. Why was the decline not predicted, and how could it have been averted by a different management policy? The assessment of Otto (1986, pp. 103, 105) is relevant here: From a biological perspective it seems unlikely that further control on fishing effort would have prevented declines in king crab landings... . The management system in place has been successful in preventing growth overfishing and in insuring product quality but has clearly not been able to prevent severe declines in abundance, and hence, stabilize landings.... In retrospect, the set of policies and regulations intended to provide more stable king crab fisheries is flawed, principally because there is an implicit assumption that natural mortality rates on prerecruit and legal crab remain fairly constant from year to year... . / conclude that directed or undirected fishing has not been a major cause of population decline in Bristol Bay red king crab... . Management measures failed to prevent


W.S. Wooster recent declines in landings because causes of declines in abundance are not related to fishing, and hence largely beyond control.

In other words, the model used to predict crab abundance and/or the data used with it were inadequate. In particular, the factors of natural mortality (from predation, disease) and recruitment, "causes of declines ... not related to fishing," were essentially unknown. In addition, estimates of incidental mortality from handling large numbers of pots and from returning nonlegals are highly uncertain. It is conceivable that heavy fishing pressure plus additional high unaccounted-for mortality, plus environmental conditions unfavorable for recruitment conspired to cause the sharp decline. The relative importance of these factors is not known (nor is it likely to be revealed in the near future by present research programs). The answer could have profound implications for management. If, for example, the major cause of fluctuations in abundance is environmentally induced fluctuations in recruitment, much higher catches could be permitted at times when the stock is abundant. From a nonbiological point of view, management could be faulted not only because of the great costs incurred as a consequence of the collapse but also because the fishery was not managed to maximize sustainable economic return. If the factors controlling stock abundance were understood and maximum acceptable harvest levels could be more adequately specified, it is likely that these levels could be extracted at much lower cost than is now the case. However, even if such a management scheme were designed, there is little evidence of the political will to bring it into existence. Lessons for the future Experience with the collapse of the king crab fishery may hold some lessons for a future marked by climate change. The fate of any specific fishery under changed environmental conditions is difficult to predict, but there is a high probability of continued large changes in abundance, on both annual and decadal scales. The king crab case concerns a low-volume, high-value fishery, but there are also historical cases of collapses of high-volume, low-value

King crab fishery 29

fisheries (e.g., California sardine, Peru anchovy). Response of the industry to collapse is to diversify, to target other stocks, and to develop new fisheries. Success depends on there being other stocks to turn to and on ingenuity in their utilization. A further problem is to keep transition costs to a tolerable level. This requires great flexibility in the harvesting, processing, and marketing sectors. Present methods for fishery management in the US are clearly ineffective in matching catching capacity to potential resources, a key to minimizing response. An underlying question is whether there will continue to be alternative stocks as the climate continues to change. The answer is uncertain without intensified research on the causes of fluctuation of marine animal populations. One can speculate as follows: • There is no convincing evidence that primary production is likely to decline; the total biomass should remain unchanged. The extent to which transfer efficiencies between trophic levels, or the allocation of production among various stocks of commercial significance, will change is unknown, but on average the change is likely to be small. • Environmental changes tend to favor one stock or group of stocks and disfavor others. Of course, all stocks are not equally desirable nor are they interchangeable, but there is no evidence that the total biomass of presently used commercial species is likely to decline. The species mix, on the other hand, is likely to change from time to time as it has in the past. • The demand for seafood increases with population growth. Sources for the increase include presently underutilized species (including nonconventional species) and aquaculture. The ecosystem costs of the former (e.g., large scale use of Antarctic krill) are not yet well understood. Aquaculture production will undoubtedly continue to grow, whatever climate changes transpire.

References Anon. (1983). Factors and Consequences Associated with Collapse of the King and Tanner Crab and Northern Puget Sound Salmon Fisheries. Seattle:

Natural Resources Consultants.


W.S. Wooster

Anon. (1988). Draft fishery management plan for the commercial king and Tanner crab fisheries in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands. Anchorage: North Pacific Fishery Management Council. Blackford, M.G. (1979). Pioneering a Modern Small Business: Wakefield Seafoods and the Alaskan Frontier. Greenwich: JAI Press. Fukuhara, F.M. (1985). Biology and Fishery of Southeastern Bering Sea Red King Crab (Paralithodes camtschatica, Tilesius). Northwest and Alaska Fishery Center Proceedings, Report No. 85-11. Seattle: Northwest and Alaska Fishery Center. Hanson, J.E. (1987). Bioeconomic analysis of the Alaskan king crab industry. Unpublished dissertation. Pullman: Washington State University. Hanson, J.E., Matulich, S.C. & Mittelhammer, R.C. (1988). Bioeconomic analysis of the 1983 Bering Sea king crab fishery closure. Paper presented at the American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting, Toronto, Canada, 12-15 September 1988. Hayes, M.L. (1983). Variation in the abundance of crab and shrimp with some hypotheses on its relationship to environmental causes. In From Year to Year, ed. W.S. Wooster, pp. 86-101. Seattle: Washington Sea Grant. Larkin, P.A., Scott, B. & Trites, A.W. (1990). The Red King Crab Fishery of the Southeastern Bering Sea. Seattle: Fisheries Management Foundation. McLafferty, T. (1980). Dutch Harbor. Pacific Fishing, 1, 23-7. McNair, D. (1982). What the country needs is a good six-cent pollock. Pacific Fishing, 3, 45-53. Miles, E.L. (1989). The US/Japan Fisheries Relationship in the Northeast Pacific: From Conflict to Cooperation? FMF-FRI-002. Seattle: Fisheries Management Foundation and Fisheries Research Institute. Miles, E.L., Gibbs, S., Fluharty, D., Dawson, C. & Teeter, D. (1982). The Management of Marine Regions: The North Pacific. Berkeley: University of California Press. Otto, R.S. (1981). Eastern Bering Sea crab fisheries. In The Eastern Bering Sea Shelf: Oceanography and Resources, Vol. 2, eds. D.W. Hood & J.A. Calder, pp. 1037-66. NOAA Office of Marine Pollution Assessment. Washington, DC: NOAA. Otto, R.S. (1986). Management and assessment of eastern Bering Sea king crab stocks. Canadian Special Publication of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 92, 83-106. Sabella, J. (1982). Life after crab in the northeast Pacific. Pacific Fishing, 3, 41-5. Schumacher, J.D. & Reed, R.K. (1983). Interannual variability in the abiotic environment of the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska. In From Year to Year, ed. W.S. Wooster, pp. 111-33. Seattle: Washington Sea Grant.

The rise and fall of the California sardine empire EDWARD UEBER Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary San Francisco, CA 94123, USA

and ALEC MACCALL National Marine Fisheries Service Tiburon, CA 94920, USA

The plane circled slowly, searching. The US Navy pilot and crew had been trained to locate and report the position of the prey under the waves. Once sighted, a message would be sent to the US Navy Air Station ashore which then relayed the sighting to a subchaser or US Coast Guard cutter in the area. The warship would signal 10 to 15 pursuit vessels, inform them of the prey's reported location and the hunt would begin (Scofield, 1920). All the men in the air and on the sea were searching for the bright crescent of light that would be visible during the dark of the moon (Scofield, 1924). The inner edge of the crescent would be green and the outer edge red (Daniel Miller, private communication, 19 September 1989). Once a vessel sighted the crescent of light, the entire attack fleet would employ a number of capture techniques to ensnare the prey. This was no hunt for an enemy submarine, but the latest twentieth century technology being used in 1919 to assist fishermen off the San Diego area in locating schools of Pacific sardine, Sardinops sagax. Sardines were just beginning to be used by the canning industry. Sardine canning started on the US west coast in 1889 at the Golden Gate Packing Company of San Francisco (California). When the San Francisco plant closed in 1893 the equipment was sold to the Southern California Fish Company in San Diego (Thompson, 1926). This company canned sardine in oil, mustard, spices and tomato sauce in two, one, and quarter pound sizes until 1909 (Smith, 1895; Thompson, 1926).


E. Ueber and A. MacCall

Another cannery started producing canned sardine in 1909 at San Diego but closed in 1913. By 1915 three sardine canneries were in operation, one in San Francisco and two in Monterey. The Monterey plants commenced canning in 1902 (the Booth plant) and 1906 (Monterey Fishing and Packing Company). A San Francisco plant opened sometime between 1900 and 1915 (Schaefer et al., 1951) (Fig. 3.1). The sardine packed at the Booth plant were labeled mackerel until this practice was stopped by the US government in 1910. However, canned sardines from California soon gained a reputation for havingflavorand quality equal to the thenpreferred French brands. 39°

California 38° SAN FRANCISCO






33° Mexica







118° 117°

Fig. 3.1 Location of study area.

Sardine canning and reduction had become the largest fishery on the west coast by 1925. This major industry landed 173,000 tons of sardine in California and another thousand in British Columbia (Canada) during that 1925-26 season (Radovich, 1981). The sardine fishery had started out as a supplier of fresh whole fish in

California sardine



the 1860s and sardines had also been used as bait since the 1880s (Smith, 1902). The shift to canning from the 1890s to the 1920s actually created two new industries. The first produced a high quality and highly valued canned sardine for human consumption; the second produced protein-rich feed for chickens as well as fertilizer for green plants. The chicken feed and the plant fertilizer were produced from canning waste, using a process called reduction. The value of this by-product soon caused canners to set up their own reduction plants at the canneries. By 1920 the increased demand for sardine meal and fertilizer resulted in some plants using whole fish along with canning waste to produce fish meal, flour, oil and fertilizer. The California Department of Fish and Game became concerned about the direct use of sardine for nonhuman consumption in 1920. Starting in 1920, and excluding only 1923 and 1924, new laws were passed to curtail the use of whole fish for reduction in every year through 1941 (Schaefer et al., 1951). The position of the US Bureau of Fisheries was that "[canned] sardines must sell at a price that is based on their own cost of production. Production of fish meal and oil can not [sic] continue to dominate canning" (Beard, 1928). This statement was made because only plants which canned fish could legally reduce sardines: canned sardines were being produced and sold at cost or at a loss so that canneries could obtain enough waste and whole fish for reduction. Selling at or below cost kept the sales of canned sardines above what the market would have demanded. The high quality of the California canned sardine resulted in a product which could be sold in almost all existing canned sardine markets, thus increasing the sale of California sardine. The canners also received another benefit from maintaining the high quality of their canned sardines. The canning of high quality sardine produces more by-product per ton of fish landed; because there is an increase in the amount of offal and unsuitable whole fish, the assured quality is higher. This meant that more fertilizer and meal could be produced from each ton of sardine landed. Although the state and federal governments were in agreement on the need to reserve the sardine resource for human consumption, the economics of reduction and the legal apparatus mitigated against this being accomplished. The major loophole in the legal structure existed when fish were caught and processed outside the


E. Ueber and A. MacCall

three-mile state jurisdiction. The inability of the state to reserve the sardine resource for human consumption became clear during the 1926-27 season, when a Monterey canner towed the concrete barge Peralta outside the state's three-mile jurisdiction and commenced reducing sardines, without even the pretext of canning. Because of financial, legal, and social problems, this vessel never successfully obtained sardines. A self-propelled vessel, the SS Lake Miraflores, also tried to obtain fish, but fishermen would not sell to her off Monterey or Santa Barbara (Fig. 3.2). The same vessel did obtain some fish off San Pedro, but the operation proved unprofitable. In November 1930 the vessel moved north to the waters just south of San Francisco; another vessel, the SS Lansing, joined her in 1932. These ventures became profitable and, as a result, floating reduction plants became common off all the major sardine ports from San Diego to San Francisco.

Fig. 3.2 SS Lake Miraflores, the first reduction ship to operate outside the jurisdiction of the State of California, unloading sardines from a purse seiner in the early 1930s (Glantz and Thompson, 1981).

Such vessels, along with a few others, operated until 1938, when oil and meal prices fell and an amendment changed the State of California's constitution. This new amendment gave the state the authority to stop offshore reduction plants. Legal proceedings were not brought to bear on these at-sea reduction plants, because the vessels had stopped processing by the time the amendment became

California sardine fishery 35

law. The reduction ships had landed a total of 778,560 tons of sardine in nine seasons. These nine seasons occurred during some of the best years in the sardine fishery. At-sea purchases of sardines represent an annual average of 16 percent of the sardines landed during the period. The 1936-37 season saw the entry of Oregon and Washington into the fishery. The landings of sardine in these states, along with those in British Columbia, and California, produced the largest one-season landing of any single species of fish* ever caught on the west coast - 791,334 tons (Table 3.1).t The 12 seasons from 1934 to 1946 would have to be considered as pax-sardinia in the California fishing industry. Landings averaged 599,467 tons a season. World War II prompted good prices for oil, meal, fertilizers, and canned sardine. State fishery biologists had been warning for years that the sardine biomass could not sustain removals over 250,000 tons. However, the industry and federal agencies resisted, thwarting the state biologist's attempt to enact a quota of that size, or indeed any quota at all. "The canneries themselves fought the war by getting the limit taken off fish and catching them all. It was done for patriotic reasons..." (Steinbeck, 1954). During the next six seasons, from 1946 until 1952, landings averaged 234,068 tons. This amount was about 40 percent of the previous 12-season average. The next 10 seasons, through 1962, recorded average landings of 55,322 tons, or one-tenth the record mid-1930s to mid-1940s seasons. The last si^seasons of the fishery produced average landings of 23,985 tons (Table 3.1 and Fig. 3.3). As one fisherman who participated in the last season (1968) said, "In the last year we caught them all in one night" (Louis Mascola, private communication, 6 September 1989). A fishery biologist, when asked to comment on the fishery, said that "It was big while it lasted" (Ralph Silliman, private communication, 18 September 1989). * There are enough 10-inch sardines in these landings that together, if laid end to end, would reach from the earth to the moon and back (Reinstedt, 1978). T During the history of this fishery, all landings were reported in short tons (908 kg). Hence the weights in this chapter have not been converted to metric units.

Table 3.1 Sardine catches from the Pacific Coast of North America (from Murphy, 1966).

Season 1916-17 1917-18 1918-19 1919-20 1920-21 1921-22 1922-23 1923-24 1924-25 1925-26 1926-27 1927-28 1928-29 1929-30 1930-31 1931-32 1932-33 1933-34 1934-35 1935-36 1936-37 1937-38 1938-39 1939-40 1940-41 1941-42 1942-43 1943-44 1944-45 1945-46 1946-47 1947-48 1948-49 1949-50 1950-51 1951-52 1952-53 1953-54 1954 55 1955-56 1956 57 1957-58 1958-59 1959-60 1960-61 1961-62 1962-63 1963-64 1964-65 1965-66 1966-67 1967-68

Pacific Northwest British WashingColumbia ton Oregon 80 3640 3280 4400 990 1020 970 1370 15950 48500 68430 80510 86340 75070 73600 44350 4050 43000 45320 44450 48080 51770 5520 28770 60050 65880 88740 59120 34300 3990 490

10 6560 17100 26480 17760 810 17100 580 10440 20 2310 6140 1360 50

26230 14200 16660 17020 22330 3160 15850 1950 1820 90 3960 6930 5320

Total 80 3640 3280 4400 990 1020 970 1370 15950 48500 68430 80510 86340 75070 73600 44350 4050 43000 71560 65210 81840 95270 45610 32740 93000 68410 101000 59140 36700 14090 8780 5370

California Northern California Reduction San Ships Francisco Monterey Total 7710 7710 70 23810 23880 450 35750 36200 1000 43040 44040 230 24960 25190 80 16290 16370 110 29210 29320 190 45920 46110 560 67310 67870 560 69010 69570 3520 81860 85380 16690 98020 114710 13520 120290 133810 21960 160050 182010 10960 25970 109620 146550 31040 21607 69078 121725 58790 18634 89599 167023 67820 36336 152480 256636 112040 68477 230854 411371 150830 76147 184470 411447 235610 141099 206706 583415 67580 133718 104936 306234 43890 201200 180994 426084 212453 227874 440327 118092 165698 283790 186589 250287 436876 115884 184399 300283 126512 213616 340128 136598 373844 237246 84103 145519 229622 2869 31391 34260 94 17630 17724 112 47862 47974 17442 131769 149211 12727 33699 46426 82 15897 15979 49 49 58 58 856 856 518 518 63 63 17 17 24701 24701 16109 16109 2340 2340 2231 2231 1211 1211 1015 1015 308 308 151 151 23 23

Southern Calif. 19820 48700 39340 22990 13260 20130 35790 37820 105150 67700 66830 72550 120670 143160 38570 42920 83667 126793 183683 149051 142709 110330 149203 96939 176794 150497 204378 138001 181061 174061 199542 103617 135752 189714 306662 113125 5662 4434 67090 73943 33580 22255 79270 21147 26538 23297 2961 1927 5795 568 321 71

Total Calif. 27530 72580 75540 67030 38450 36500 65110 83930 173020 137270 152210 187260 254480 325170 185120 164645 250690 383429 595034 560498 726124 416564 575287 537266 460584 587373 504661 478129 554905 403683 233802 121341 183726 338925 353688 129104 5711 4492 68465 74461 33643 22272 103971 37256 28878 25528 4172 2942 6103 719 344 71

Baja Calif.

16184 9162 14306 12440 4207 13655 9924 22334 21446 19899 21270 14620 18384 27120 22247 19531 27657

Grand Total 27530 72660 79180 70310 42850 37490 66130 84900 174390 153220 200710 255690 334990 411510 260190 238245 295040 387479 638054 632058 791334 490404 670557 582876 493324 680373 573071 579129 614045 440383 247892 130121 189096 338925 353088 145288 14873 18798 80905 78660 47298 32196 126305 58702 48777 46798 18792 21326 33223 22966 19875 27728


E. Ueber and A. MacCall 600 Pacific Northwest Northern California Southern California Baja California












Fig. 3.3 Sardine catches from the Pacific coast of North America. Pacific Northwest includes British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. Northern California includes reduction ships, San Francisco, and Monterey. (Data from Murphy, 1966.)

The history of the sardine fishery is not just a story of landings, government regulations and industry exploitation; nor is this story being told to affix the blame or determine the cause of the sardine fishery collapse. The causes could have been overfishing (Scofield, 1938; MacCall, 1979), management conflicts (Ahlstrom & Radovich, 1970), climate change (Smith, 1979) or, most likely, a combination of all of these. Upon following this fishery from the 1860s to its demise in 1968, one not only becomes aware of the vast quantity of sardines harvested and the loss of a very valuable industry, but also of the people who worked in the plants, caught the fish and invested their funds in this colorful dynamic venture. The loss of the sardine industry had ramifications for the west coast fishing community, the State of California, and foreign nations in Central and South America, and Africa. The lessons available on how people, institutions, and society coped with, and learned from, this loss are every bit as important as the lessons learned from the loss of the resource itself.

California sardine



The California sardine fishery was composed of the aforementioned groups of fishermen, plant workers, and entrepreneurs. These three groups of people are in no way mutually exclusive. Some fishermen and their families were involved in all three activities. Others invested and fished or invested and worked. In the very beginning in San Francisco most of the fishermen were Italian (San Francisco Chronicle, 20 July 1885). As the fishery moved to southern California, Portuguese and "Jugo-Slavs ('Austrian')" [sic] fishermen predominated (Skogsberg, 1925). Fishermen from Oregon and Washington in the 1930s were mostly Scandinavian. The period of expansion and large landings covered 21 years from 1925 to 1946. With one exception during that period, these nationality groupings stayed roughly the same throughout the fishing communities. In the late 1920s and 1930s JapaneseAmerican fishermen dominated fishing for sardine out of southern California (Higgins & Holmes, 1921). At the outbreak of World War II, Japanese-American fishermen were removed to concentration camps, never to regain ownership of their vessels or their dominant position in the fishery. Beside the foregoing nationalities, two other nationalities were prominently involved as plant workers: the Mexicans and Chinese. Most of the higher skilled workforce at the plants were related to fishermen or came from the same ethnic background as the fishermen in that port. The Monterey area, southern California, and the San Francisco area produced the majority of canned sardines and fish meal. The most famous of the sardine canning communities was, and still is, Monterey. Monterey's fame can be linked to its current tourist popularity and also to the writings of John Steinbeck, even though southern California landed as many sardines and San Francisco started earlier. The national and international distribution of the "top of the line" Monterey-canned sardines also contributed to the area's fame and recognition. During the Great Depression (1929-41), Monterey did not suffer as much as most other areas of the US, because sardine production remained high and even increased in the late 1930s. Although the Monterey canning area became "a poem, a stink, a grating noise" to many Americans (Steinbeck, 1945), it meant bread on the table to those involved in it. The Legaz family was one of the families that earned its livelihood from fishing. They were of Austrian decent and started their


E. Ueber and A. MacCall

own fishing business in 1912. In that year, with his cousins and brothers, Mr. Legaz bought a small trawler and named it the Legaz Brothers. The oldest of the Legaz brothers subsequently bought the Georgia in 1917, the Ansonia (70 feet - 21 m) in 1927, the Valencia (75 feet - 23 m) in 1928, the Marconia (80 feet - 25 m) in 1937, and the Leviathan (98 feet - 30 m) in 1946. In 1947 he invested in a sardine plant and sold out a few years later, not losing any money. His sons fished with him from age nine or ten, until they could buy their own vessels or skipper one of the other boats in the Legaz fleet. In the 1940s oil was the big moneymaker from sardines, not canning (Louis Legaz, private communication, 1 October 1989). Investing in a plant that reduced sardine was one way for fishing families to get rich. The Legaz family was one of hundreds of families and thousands of people who fished for sardine for part of a year. A typical multifishery pattern consisted of fishing for salmon on the west coast of Alaska from June through September, sardine off California from October through March, and squid fishing near San Pedro and Monterey in April and May and sometimes September. The number of vessels involved in the sardine fishery was substantial. As late as 1956, the October monthly report of the Monterey office of California's Department of Fish and Game states that 150 vessels and eight airplanes were active on one night. During the 1956-57 season, landings were 33,580 tons. Each seiner and lampara vessel had between six and 10 people on board. If you expand this fishermen ratio to the pax-sardinia fleet of 500 vessels, then 4,000 fishermen were employed for half a year, or 2,000 fisherman-years of work annually during the 1930s and early 1940s. The California landings in 1943 were about 500,000 tons, and in 1946 about half that amount. The ex-vessel values were US$10.8 and US$6.9 million, respectively (Pinsky & Ball, 1948). The product value in 1943 exceeded US$29 million and in 1946 is estimated to have been about the same, although the 1946 catch was actually much smaller. If we expand this product value with a conservative consumer price index (CPI) to 1989, the product value would exceed US$210 million (1946 CPI = 52, 1989 CPI = 380, 1967 CPI = 100) (Anon., 1989). Yearly employment was over 9,000 in 1946, probably far greater in 1943, and likely to have been over 25,000 in 1936, based on the relative size of the reported catches.

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California sardine fishery 41

The wages paid to these 1943 workers was around US$28 million, equivalent to US$200 million in 1989 dollars. Monterey fishermen continued to can fish until 1957, but reduction ceased by 1950. Most of the fish canned in Monterey during the 1950s were trucked in from southern California. Fishermen received an agreed-upon price regardless of the quantity landed, but had to pay the cost of trucking. The trucking rates and prices were negotiated between the union and the remaining two Monterey buyers in the late 1950s. Fishermen negotiated an ex-vessel price of US$47.50 per ton in 1955, but after paying the cost of trucking, loading, unloading, and ice they received only US$40.00 per ton. In August 1957 the agreed price rose US$5.00 to $52.50 per ton, but fishermen received US$2.50 less, $37.50, because the costs associated with transporting the sardines were increased to US$15.00 per ton. In October 1957, transport costs were raised to US$18.00, lowering the net received ex-vessel price to US$34.50 (see the monthly California Department of Fish and Game reports for the period 1945-65). By 1960 only the bait fishery remained in Monterey, and although the ex-vessel price was sometimes US$200 per ton, sardines were not available. Sportfishermen were paying US$1.00 per sardine in 1968. The fishery continued in southern California until that night in 1968 when the airplanes led the fleet to the last sardine schools. Capital formation had occurred, from 1889 to 1946, at roughly the same rate as the developing fishery. In 1946, 101 reduction plants were in operation in California. Plant ownership was distributed among a broad spectrum of people. People such as the Legaz family were only one type of owner. Other ownership structures included small investors who had combined funds. These small investors were often groups of fishermen, or cannery workers who, through investment, believed they could give themselves an opportunity to better their position by increasing job security and decreasing middleman costs. Large investors also participated. A number of investors were already wealthy, such as Zellerbach, Fleishhacker and Christopher. Christopher was mayor of San Francisco, and men like Zellerbach and Fleishhacker had friends in high local, state, and federal positions on whom they could call for help, giving these investors more political clout than the small investors. The industry was able to use this clout to


E. Ueber and A. MacCall

either limit laws or block (or at least postpone) effective conservation legislation. By 1968, 80 years after the fishery had started in San Francisco, it was gone. It had collapsed, crumbled, and disappeared. The collapse had taken 22 seasons. The vessels were gone, the machinery was gone, and the people were no longer sardine workers. Fishermen had for years been witnessing the demise of the resource with fewer and smaller schools of fish almost annually. In the 1950s workers still talked about the sardines coming back. A decent season like 1958-59, when 126,000 tons were landed, would keep people hoping for another five years. Many men finally realized that the sardines would not return; the lucky or smarter fishermen went to other fields, other fisheries or other countries. The men who had multi-fishery options diversified. Some of the smaller vessels fished market (Dungeness) crab (Cancer magister), from November through February, others fished rockfish (Sebastes spp.), albacore (Thunnus alalunga\ and salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.). These vessels which changed fisheries would change from eight-man sardine crews to three- or two-man, or even skipperonly crews. The displaced crewmen found employment ashore as painters, gardeners, construction workers, and other similarly skilled positions. Many maintained their relationship with fishing by going to Alaska in the summer, but no longer fished all the year round. Those vessels which could not economically switch from lampara or seine gear fished for squid, anchovy or tuna. In the US none of the displaced fishermen or cannery workers received retraining or assistance from the government to start a new profession. Men who owned vessels, but could no longer pay the mortgage or upkeep on their vessels, sold them. Smaller vessels, in the 45-foot range, were useful in the above-mentioned alternative fisheries. People who sold and serviced vessels, such as Woodward's in Moss Landing, saw large numbers of vessels being sold, foreclosed, not repaired, and lost at sea. Because of the large number of vessels on the market, even small vessels sold at a loss, but larger and more valuable vessels (75-110 feet - 23-33 m in length) sold for half price and even as low as 10 cents on the dollar (Lillian Woodward, vessel brokerage family, private communication, 19 September 1989). Some of these larger vessels went to Alaska to participate in the expansion of the king crab (Paralithodes camtschatica) fishery (see

California sardine fishery 43

Wooster, this volume). The low prices of the vessels kept fixed costs down, allowing new owners the luxury of learning to fish and market alternative products while having to cover little more than their operating (i.e., variable) costs. At the same time as the vessels were being sold and transferred to other west coast fisheries, other vessels and equipment associated with sardine canning and reduction were being sold in international markets to such countries as Peru, Chile, and South Africa. Although much of the equipment pre-dated World War II, a lot of equipment was relatively new and had been used sparingly, since being purchased in the late 1940s when the fishery was in decline (Sal Ferrante, private communication, 20 September 1989). Peru and Chile were assisted in these purchases by two agencies of the United Nations: the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), responsible for increasing the food (particularly protein) supply for Third World nations, and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), responsible for securing funds for Third World development. Funds supplied by the UNDP were also used to obtain expertise in fishing, canning, reduction, and fishery management. Lampara fishermen from San Francisco and seiners from San Diego went to South America generally for six months to a year to teach fishing methods or as contract skippers. Some men sold their vessels, delivered them in South America and stayed on as skippers of the vessel. As in Alaska, the low price of idle equipment and vessels allowed the sardine and anchoveta (Engraulis ring ens) fisheries off the west coast of South America to expand rapidly. This expansion occurred even faster, because of the technology transfer attributed to the expertise of the Californians and the low cost of equipment. Sal Ferrante, an experienced canner and reduction plant operator/owner (and other men like him), was hired to establish a new plant in Peru during the 1950s. From 1958 until 1960 he stayed on to run the plant he established. Ferrante was available to do this type of work because, in 1957, he had sold his fertilizer plant in Oxnard, California, to a South African company. The Oxnard plant was almost new and he received a good price for used sardine equipment, a price equal to about 6070 percent of the cost of building a new facility. Ferrante's plant was dismantled, shipped to South Africa, reassembled and became operational within a matter of months. Except for the location,


E. Ueber and A. MacCall

nothing in the fertilizer plant had been changed, even the name on the door remained "Ferrante Co." Other businessmen, such as Leo Hart and Craig Johnson, established companies which sold used machinery primarily to South American countries and to Mexico. Machinery was shipped to these locations from San Francisco, Moss Landing, Monterey, Port Hueneme, Long Beach, and San Diego (Fig. 3.1). Fish meal and oil reduction machinery constituted the majority of the equipment sold to South American enterprises. This equipment was generally older and less costly than the equipment shipped to South Africa. Unlike Ferrante's fertilizer plant, most equipment prices rarely exceeded half the cost of new equipment, and some were sold for one-fifth the new value. Locating these surplus machines in the western US was accomplished via a worldwide network of people who had previously worked in the production and management of California's sardine fishery. Fishery biologists and managers from California became involved in the management of South Americanfisheriesthrough the United Nations' support of Peru's Instituto del Mar (IMARPE) and the Ministerio de Comercio e Industria. Along with people from California (William Ripply and Frances Clark), Australia (Jeffery Kestevan), England (Phillip Appleyard), and other US citizens (Millian Kravanja and Wilbur Doucet), were local scientists (e.g., Coronel Portillo) attempting to evaluate the sardine and anchoveta resources of the Peru Current. Many of these people had gained knowledge and experience working with California sardine and were attempting to use that experience to manage southern clupeid stocks (William Ripply, private communication, 18 September 1989). Like the industry workers, these scientists had gone south "searching for new raw material" for their scientific skills (Popovici, 1964). Conclusions and lessons Global climate change is likely to cause diverse alterations and changes in fisheries around the world. Some fisheries may decline or collapse, while others may increase. The historical collapse of a major fishery like the California sardine fishery provides a number of lessons on how the local society and the national and

California sardine fishery 45

international fishing industry may be expected to respond to these changes. Some of those lessons were postulated by Radovich (1981). He addressed the interactions of the politics of fishery management with the biology of the species, and concluded that "the present scarcity of sardines off the coast of California, and their absence off the northwest, is an inescapable climax, given the characteristics and magnitude of the fishery and the behavior and life history of the species" (p. 134). Lessons drawn by Radovich regarding within-fishery dynamics include the following: • Overfishing can cause fishery collapse rather than a sustained low-level harvest. • Political process can be controlled through industry's influence to thwart rational management. • Development-oriented government agencies may contribute to delayed and ineffective management. • Research can be used to delay solutions as well as to provide solutions. We would offer a fifth lesson on the internal dynamics of fishery collapse: • Overfishing is a natural consequence of institutional (government as well as industry) momentum, following the paradigm that "bigger is better," with size being the ultimate measure of "success." These lessons clearly indicate the path that a new industrial clupeid fishery may be expected to take. More importantly, they indicate that strong management is necessary to counter these destructive tendencies. New fisheries are eagerly encouraged by many segments of society, industry, and government agencies. This encouragement is often manifested in the form of subsidies: • Non-market funding of equipment or expertise will cause the fishery to develop more rapidly than would be expected from purely market-driven development (e.g., US Navy and Coast Guard assistance in locating sardines). • Fishery management can behave like a subsidy in that it encourages investment if its perceived presence engenders optimism, or decreased expectation of risk. In this respect, ineffective management is worse than no management at all, as


E. Ueber and A. MacCall

fishery development is accelerated but no resource conservation benefit is derived. Our examination of the international events during and following the collapse of the California sardine fishery provides another set of lessons regarding the development of substitute fisheries. A substitute fishery will develop more rapidly than would be the case for a newly developed independent fishery. This rapid development occurs because existing capital, labor, technology, and markets are readily transferred to the substitute fishery. • Capital, labor, and technology can be obtained at less cost and with less delay than would be required for independent development of an isolated fishery. • Technology and expertise are available, eliminating the "learning curve." • Labor available to substitute fisheries (semi-skilled, skilled, and managerial) has provided an opportunity to maintain preferred professional and cultural lifestyles, avoiding the economic risk and cultural hazards of retraining. • Market development is unnecessary with substitute fisheries, because existing markets are in search of a product. Product prices offered for the substitute product are generally high. The combination of a highly valued product due to existing unfilled market demand, subsidies, and low start-up cost (due to cheap surplus equipment and labor) provides the economic conditions for rapid industrial development. The lack of normal time delays dangerously accelerates the developmental process. For these reasons, we expect global warming not only to cause large international relocations of fishing industries, but those relocations will be accomplished by a rapid transfer of industrial structure from collapsing fisheries to emerging or new fisheries. While both the old and new substitute fisheries may be inherently unstable because of climate change, we expect that this rapid transfer of harvesting and processing capacity will exacerbate fishery instability. The political process of establishing management institutions and the scientific process of developing predictive fishery models are much slower than industrial development of substitute fisheries. Internationally, governments and their fishery management agencies should be prepared to adopt the politically difficult and industrially resisted management policy of deliberately con-

California sardine fishery


strained fishery development, and avoid politically popular but destabilizing subsidies. The alternative is likely to be a few years of glory and high profits followed by decades of disillusionment, unemployment and industrial decay.

References Ahlstrom, E.H. & Radovich, J. (1970). Management of the Pacific sardine. In A Century of Fisheries in North America, ed. N.G. Benson, pp. 183-93. Special Publication No. 7 of the American Fisheries Society. Washington, DC: American Fisheries Society. Anon. (1989). Consumer Price Index. Washington, DC: US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Beard, H.R. (1928). Preparation of fish for canning of sardine. Report of the United States Commissioner of Fisheries for Fiscal Year 1927, pp. 67-223. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. Higgins, E. & Holmes, H.B. (1921). Methods of sardine fishing in southern California. California Fish and Game, 7, 219-37. MacCall, A.D. (1979). Population estimates for the waning years of the Pacific sardine fishery. CalCOFI Report No. 20, pp. 72-82. Monterey: California Cooperative Oceanic Fishery Investigations. Pinsky, P.G. & Ball, W. (1948). The California Sardine Fishery. San Francisco: California Congress of Industrial Organizations Council. Popovici, Z. (1964). Remarks on the Peruvian anchoveta fishery. Document VIII, Marine Research Committee Minutes of 6 March 196'4. Sacramento: State of California Marine Research Committee. Radovich, J. (1981). The collapse of the California sardine fishery—What have we learned? In Resource Management and Environmental Uncertainty: Lessons from Coastal Upwelling Fisheries, ed. M.H. Glantz & J.D. Thompson, pp. 107-36. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Reinstedt, R.A. (1978). Where Have All the Sardines Gone? Carmel: Ghost Town Publishers. Schaefer, M.B., Sette, O.E. & Marr, J.C. (1951). Growth of the Pacific Coast pilchard fishery to 1942. Research Report No. 29, pp. 1-31. Washington, DC: US Fish & Wildlife Service. Scofield, N.B. (1920). Commercial fishery notes. California Fish and Game, 6, 29-32. Scofield, N.B. (1924). The lampara net. California Fish and Game, 10, 66-70. Scofield, W.L. (1938). Sardine oil and our troubled waters. California Fish and Game, 24, 210-23. Skogsberg, T. (1925). Preliminary investigation of the purse seine industry of southern California. California Fish and Game Commission Bulletin, 9, 1-95. Smith, C. (1979). Cited by Radovich (1981) as San Diego Union, January, Col. 1, B-2, Col. 4, B-5. Smith, H.M. (1895). Notes on the reconnaissance of the fisheries of the Pacific coast of the United States in 1894. US Fish Commission Bulletin, 16, 223-8.


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Smith, H.M. (1902). The French sardine industry. US Fish Commission Bulletin, 21, 1-26. Steinbeck, J. (1945). Cannery Row. New York: Viking Press. Steinbeck, J. (1954). Sweet Thursday. Dallas: Penguin Books. Thompson, W.F. (1926). The California sardine and the study of the available supply. California Fish and Game Commission Bulletin, 11, 5-66.

El Nino and variability in the northeastern Pacific salmon fishery: implications for coping with climate change KATHLEEN A. MILLER Environmental and Societal Impacts Group National Center for Atmospheric Research Boulder, CO 80307, USA

and DAVID L. FLUHARTY School of Marine Affairs College of Ocean and Fishery Sciences University of Washington Seattle, WA 98195, USA

Introduction In 1982 and 1983 an intense El Nino in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean spread warm water far northward along the west coast of North America. This event is believed to have been an important factor contributing to poor salmon harvests along the California, Oregon, and Washington coasts during the 1983 and 1984 seasons and has been largely blamed for the socioeconomic distress experienced by commercial salmon trailers during those seasons. At the time, newspaper headlines that appeared in the US Pacific Northwest followed the lead of distressed commercial harvesters and disappointed sports fishers in proclaiming the El Nino to be a natural disaster with significant impacts on the salmon fishery. To what extent was El Nino responsible for the poor runs of coho and chinook salmon along the US west coast in 1983 and 1984? How large were the actual socioeconomic impacts? To what extent was the reported socioeconomic distress among commercial harvesters a direct result of this event? These questions are complex, and no simple answers can be given. Nevertheless, an examination of the experience of the Pacific Northwest


K.A. Miller and D.L. Fluharty

salmon fishery during this El Nino event can further our understanding of the interactions between climate, biological processes, and the human activities dependent on those processes. The purpose of this study is to gain insight into the impacts of climatic variability on a complex fishery system and, by analogy, the potential impacts on fisheries of climate change. The fishery system as defined here encompasses not only the natural history and biological oceanography of salmon, but societal components as well. These include scientific research and monitoring, harvesting, processing, marketing, consumption, and governmental management of the commercial and sport fisheries. Each component of this system is affected by multiple sources of variability, many of which are inadequately monitored, documented, and understood to allow a clear separation of the role of climatic variations from a host of confounding factors. This chapter is thus, necessarily, a first cut at describing the major factors affecting this fishery and, where possible, sorting out their relative importance during the period surrounding the 1982-83 El Nino event. Although five species of Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) are harvested along the west coast of North America, the discussion here will focus especially on the chinook (0. tshawytscha) and coho (0. kisutch) salmon fisheries off Washington, Oregon, and California, and on the Fraser River sockeye (O. nerka). These fisheries were apparently most strongly affected by the 1982-83 El Nino event, with reductions in the abundance and size of the coho and chinook, and an altered migration pattern for the Fraser River sockeye. The Washington, Oregon, and California chinook and coho stocks account for only a small share of the total North American commercial, sport, and subsistence salmon harvest (less than 2% by numbers of fish in 1985). However, they have been locally important to a large community of commercial salmon harvesters, sports fishers and Indian harvesters, and salmon are often seen as an important part of the regional culture. In addition, they have been the object of extensive biological research regarding the contribution of oceanographic conditions to variations in their productivity (Nickelson, 1986; Pearcy, 1988; Walters, 1988). Finally, they are possibly the salmon stocks most susceptible to climate change as they are closest to the southern range of the genus and

Northeastern Pacific salmon fishery 51

may be more highly stressed than northern stocks by alteration of habitat, hatchery developments, and fishing pressure. The Fraser River sockeye are an internationally shared resource between Canadian and US (Washington State) harvesters. The altered migration pattern during the 1982-83 El Nino event meant that the majority of these salmon remained in Canadian waters as they returned to spawn, making them unavailable to the US fishery. This chapter is divided into five sections. The first provides a description of the North American salmon fishery. The second section describes El Nino events in the northeastern Pacific and discusses the mechanisms by which El Niiio and other fluctuations in oceanographic conditions can affect the biological productivity of salmon stocks. The third discusses the responses of the scientific research community and of salmon managers to the 1982-83 El Nino event. The fourth section discusses the socioeconomic impacts of this event. The concluding section distills implications from this case study for adaptation to climatic variability and climate change. The salmon fishery in the northeastern Pacific Salmon are anadromous fish, spawning in fresh water, spending early life stages in streams and lakes, moving then into coastal estuaries and finally into the open ocean. After a period of one to six years in salt water depending on the species, the mature fish return to spawn and die (Fig. 4.1). Hatchery production cycles are similar to natural runs except that there is artificial spawning and hatching, and the early stages of the salmon's life are spent in a controlled freshwater environment. In the course of their wide-ranging migration, salmon spawned in North America traverse virtually the whole northeastern Pacific Ocean from approximately 40°N to the Bering Straits and beyond for some species (Fig. 4.2). The distribution picture is complicated by the mixing of salmon stocks of Asian origin (Fredin et al., 1977). For North American stocks, there is a distinct change in species composition of the salmon catch with latitude. For example, the California and Oregon commercial harvest consists almost entirely of coho and chinook, whereas in Washington and British Columbia, chum, pink and sockeye as well as coho and chinook


K.A. Miller and D.L. Fluharty




Downriver Migration

Nursery Period Natural grounds

Juvenile Salmon


\ \

Ocean Residence

Upriver Migration

>O Adult Salmon

Fig. 4.1 Life cycle of the Pacific salmon.

i f



/ / V I A

50°N 40°N


J /w //*' ' [// V! •

ft /'-'/JAPAN



A /

^- ^ 1




——Western Alaskan




1 Asian / \



Other North American 7^«

ML ^> Z ^ S k CANADA *%%%


PA C 1 F1 C i |




< CO

0 C EA N 1






Fig. 4.2 Generalized ocean distribution of chinook salmon from Asia, western Alaska, and other North American areas.

Northeastern Pacific salmon fishery 53

salmon are taken. Large numbers of salmon of all five species are caught off Alaska, with pink, chum and sockeye accounting for over 95 percent of the salmon harvested.* Harvesters Salmon are of primary importance to three major groups of North American harvesters: non-Indian commercial harvesters, Indians, and sports fishers. The Indian fishery has deep historical and cultural roots. The salmon fisheries were the mainstay of the northwestern Native American culture and livelihood. When settlers moved into the region they quickly began to exploit the salmon resource, at first for subsistence. By the late nineteenth century, major commercial fisheries were developing along the coast. As the region's population has grown, particularly in the post-World War II era, sport fishing for salmon has become increasingly important. The commercial fishery, which includes substantial Indian commercial fishing activity, accounts for most of the salmon harvested coastwide. The dollar value of the Pacific salmon fishery in today's terms is measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars and its direct employment is in the order of tens of thousands of persons on a seasonal basis. It has long been one of the most valuable commercial fisheries in the US, with Alaska accounting for most of the harvest (87% in 1987 and 1988) (National Marine Fisheries Service, 1988, 1989). The commercial salmon fishery in the northeastern Pacific is dominated by two nations - Canada and the US - although Japan has participated through international agreements (Jackson & Royce, 1987; Myers et al., 1987). Incidental catch by groundfish and driftnet fisheries has made other fishing interests, domestic and foreign, indirect parties to North American salmon fisheries (French, 1977). The commercial harvest of salmon by North Americans takes place in coastal or terminal area fisheries mainly by gillnetting, * Author's computations, data in numbers of fish. Source: INPFC (International North Pacific Fisheries Commission), Statistical Yearbook, 1980-85, (published 1983-88).


K.A. Miller and D.L. Fluharty

purse seining, and trolling, with traps, set nets and weirs used in limited areas. As one moves northward along the coast, the commercial harvest of salmon is conducted with an increasing variety of gear types. Trolling is the predominant method of commercial harvest in California and Oregon, while net-type gears are more common in the other jurisdictions where pink, chum and sockeye account for a major proportion of the salmon harvest (e.g., Bathgate, 1984; Schelle & Muse, 1986). The sport fishery concentrates primarily on coho and chinook, although sport harvests of sockeye and pink appear to be increasing in Alaska, British Columbia, and Washington. Coastwide, sport fishing accounts for a small share of the salmon harvest; even of the harvest of the targeted coho and chinook. For historical reasons, the competition between these three groups appears to have been most intense in the State of Washington. In that state, the non-Indian commercial fishery competes with a relatively large sport fishery for coho and chinook, while the state's obligation to uphold treaties protecting the Indian salmon fishery was reaffirmed in the US courts by the landmark 1974 Boldt decision and subsequent court cases (United States v. Washington, 1974). Public management of the fishery Public management of the salmon fishery initially arose in an effort to prevent biological overharvesting and to stabilize the runs. It has evolved into a complex monitoring, prediction and allocation system. There are two international commissions (International North Pacific Fisheries Commission and Pacific Salmon Commission), and within the US, two domestic regional fisheries management councils (North Pacific Fisheries Management Council and Pacific Fisheries Management Council). Management of the fishery also involves the federal governments of Canada and the US as well as state, provincial and territorial governments. By its nature, management affects the distribution of the harvest between jurisdictions and between competing groups of harvesters aligned by gear type, tribal affiliation, location and commercialnoncommercial orientation. The management regimes (Young, 1977) for salmon in the northeastern Pacific have regulated fishing through quotas, gear restrictions, license limitations, and seasons

Northeastern Pacific salmon fishery 55

- all of which have varied in their effect and effectiveness (Cooley, 1963; Crutchfield & Pontecorvo, 1969; Netboy, 1980). Variability in abundance Large interannual variations in the size of returning salmon runs have been a fact of life throughout the history of the salmon fishery. Commercial harvest statistics provide the only available long-term record of this variability and these statistics are available only for the last 80-100 years (Bell & Pruter, 1958; INPFC, 1979). Commercial and sport catch statistics are an imperfect measure of variations in stock abundance, for reasons noted by Nickelson & Lichatowich (1984). This presents problems for biologists seeking to understand the causes of variability in the individual stocks contributing to the coastal salmon fisheries. However, since the anadromous nature of salmon makes them quite easy to harvest and since most salmon stocks run a gauntlet of intensely competing gear units as they return to their spawning streams, it seems likely that the variability historically observed in coastwide commercial harvests has had its major roots in variations in stock abundance. At the local level, it is more difficult to ascribe variability in harvests to changes in stock abundance. Due to their migratory nature, salmon from any given area may be harvested far from their native streams. Local harvest rates may also vary due to local weather conditions, variations in market conditions or fishing skills, or due to alterations in management regimes designed to rebuild stocks. Commercial harvest records are available from 1920 to the present for Washington, British Columbia and Alaska. Shorter time series are available for commercial harvests in Oregon and California and for noncommercial harvests coastwide (INPFC, 1952-85; 1979). Long-term trends in the total commercial harvest of all salmon species by state and province can be seen in Figs. 4.3a-e. The figures record catch in terms of numbers of fish (thousands) rather than in terms of weight to make use of the longest available time series. The primary value of these figures is to depict the variability inherent in these fisheries, which is a striking feature of all of the time series.


K.A. Miller and D.L. Fluharty 150,000



Fig. 4.3 Total commercial salmon harvest, all species, by jurisdiction. (Data source: INPFC, 1952-85; 1979.)

Alaska stands out as being by far the largest salmon producer. After peaking in the mid-1980s, Alaska's production declined to a low in 1959. Alaskan harvests recovered somewhat in the 1960s but dropped to record low levels in the early to mid-1970s. They have made a remarkable recovery to record high levels over the past decade. Some attribute this recovery to anomalously warm temperatures in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea during the period 1976-84 (e.g., Rogers, 1984). Others cite improved management of the fishery (e.g., Royce, 1989). The reduction in the Japanese high-seas mothership fishery, brought about by the implementation in 1977 of the Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Public Law 94-265) and subsequent revisions of the North Pacific Treaty in 1978 and 1986, may also have contributed to recent record harvests in Alaska. However, the available evidence sug-

Northeastern Pacific salmon



gests that the recent dramatic growth in Alaskan salmon harvests far exceeds the reduction in Japan's mothership harvest (Harris, 1988; INPFC annual series, 1978-85; National Marine Fisheries Service, 1988; 1989). Commercial harvests in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and California have been quite variable over the period recorded. Sharp changes in harvest levels from one year to the next are not uncommon, and the odd-year runs of pink salmon in Washington result in a clearly sawtoothed pattern for that state's total salmon harvest. The mid-1970s were extremely productive years for coho and chinook along the southern part of the North American coast (see Figs. 4.4a-d and 4.5a-d). This elevated productivity has been attributed to anomalously cool waters and strong upwelling creating favorable conditions for salmon survival and growth (Nickelson, 1986). However, these record years marked the beginning of a declining trend for coho and chinook harvests. The fact that these harvests were declining immediately prior to the 1982-83 El Nino event makes it all the more difficult to determine the degree to which the low harvests of 1983 and 1984 can be attributed to El Nino. _ 6000

^ 2000

5000 4000 3000 2000 1000

sport subsistences' *j* 45


-j -





.1)1 -_

O 2000 X

S |6°°


: I % Y|J 1200

^ £



3 O

-commercial 1



_ 800

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(b) Washington

1 1 1 l_L.l

_ 2400 F

Jl h \


(d) California

X 600 .o Z 400

1 *



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| o 200

sport %rfV^ \ *

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(Video) What's causing climate change? (and what to do about it)


Fig. 4.4 Coho harvests, by user group. (Data source: INPFC, 1952-85; 1979.)


K.A. Miller and D.L. Fluharty










600 -













Fig. 4.5 Chinook harvests, by user group. (Data source: INPFC, 1952-85; 1979.)

The causes of the variablity in salmon harvests are complex and only imperfectly understood. In their efforts to understand the nature and sources of this variability in harvests, biologists have investigated a great number of variables affecting salmon in freshwater habitats, estuaries, and in the ocean. Still, there is no agreement on which factor or factors can be used to predict variations in salmon abundance. Overfishing, particularly of weak stocks in mixed-stock fisheries (Bevan, 1988), variations in marine survival rates, environmental degradation, hatchery programs and changes in international fishing regulations have all been cited as causes of long-term changes in salmon abundance. Streamflow variability in spawning streams is also believed to contribute to variability in abundance. There have also been enormous negative impacts on salmon habitat through the construction of dams, irrigation facilities, dikes, and landfills as well as from industrial and agricultural pollution, forest management practices, and urbanization (Northwest Power Planning Council, 1986). Major efforts have been made to compensate for these activities and to augment natural runs of salmon by means of salmon

Northeastern Pacific salmon



hatchery construction and operation. In addition, there have been changes in fishing methods, locations and management activities. The presence of these confounding factors makes the task of identifying the role of climate-related variability in the marine environment almost insurmountable. Nevertheless, some evidence can be gleaned from El Nino events and from other periods of major change in the northeastern Pacific salmon fisheries. Ocean environment, El Nino, and salmon While a comprehensive discussion of the effects of the marine environment on salmon is beyond the scope of this chapter, this section provides a brief summary of the apparent effects of ocean conditions on salmon both during El Nino events and over longer time periods. Some plausible explanations of the mechanisms that might relate changes in ocean conditions to salmon harvests are discussed. At sea, salmon are constantly moving (Quinn & Groot, 1984). Their migratory patterns and behavior are believed to enable salmon to make use of abundant food resources available on a site- and time-specific basis in a major ocean ecosystem (Gross et al., 1988). This would tend to make salmon survival and growth a potentially good indicator of ocean conditions over a wide area. Large shifts in ocean temperatures and productivity would likely be reflected in changes in abundance. However, while considerable progress has been made at unlocking the oceanic "black box" into which salmon swim as smolt and from which salmon return as adults, much remains unknown (Walters et al., 1978). A considerable amount is known about the general migration patterns and behavior of salmon and substantial work has been done to identify the ocean distribution of each species (see Dodimead et al., 1963; Favorite et al., 1976; Pearcy, 1984). However, there is little systematic monitoring of ocean conditions, or of the spatial distribution of salmon stocks at any given time. If a marked change in the marine environment, like an El Nino event, could be adequately monitored, it might provide a sort of natural experiment. Such an event might yield information about the effects of climatic variations on salmon and, perhaps, insights into the potential impacts of climate change (Walters, 1988).


K.A. Miller and D.L. Fluharty

El Nino periods

El Nino is the name given to the occasional invasion of warm surface water from the western equatorial part of the Pacific Basin to the eastern equatorial Pacific, where these events produce a rise in sea level, higher sea surface temperatures and a depressed thermocline (Namias & Cayan, 1981; Cane, 1983; Philander, 1983; Rasmusson & Wallace, 1983; Rasmusson, 1985). El Nino is a recurring, quasi-periodic phenomenon associated with a reversal of barometric pressure between the eastern and western tropical Pacific, known as the Southern Oscillation. These events are most frequent in the equatorial Pacific but infrequently they affect the west coast of North America as well (see Wooster & Fluharty, 1985). In the northeastern Pacific, evidence of the impacts of strong El Nino events can be seen in elevated sea levels (5-20 cm), higher sea surface temperatures (1-3°C) and warmer subsurface temperatures (to 300 m). Three such events are documented in the northeastern Pacific, north of central California: 1940-41, 1957-58, and 1982-83 (McLain, 1984; Fiedler, 1984; Tabata, 1984a; Cannon et al., 1985). The chief changes in the ocean environment associated with El Nino are elevated sea surface temperatures, reduced offshore flow, and reduced primary productivity (Barber & Chavez, 1983). The temperature increase would appear to be within the range of tolerance of salmon (Tabata, 1984b) but little is known about the relationship between primary productivity and feeding, growth, and survival of salmon. Similarly, little is known about the effects of reduced offshore flow on adult salmon or on the vulnerability of salmon smolts to predators. However, it is reasonable to expect that lower primary productivity would result in reduced food availability and slower salmon growth. If severe shortage of food existed, salmon might starve, or they might be more susceptible to disease or predation. Finally, salmon in poor condition may not be able to complete the migration pattern or may be less fit reproductively. During the 1982-83 El Nino, a modest research effort was mounted to examine the effects of the event on salmonids. The following effects can be documented with some degree of certainty: • Coho salmon off the coast of southern Washington, Oregon, and California (the Oregon Production Index (OPI) area)

Northeastern Pacific salmon



showed considerably reduced survival compared with predicted survival. Coho and chinook salmon in the OPI area were generally lower than average in weight during this period. There was poor survival of coho salmon smolts in the OPI area. Sockeye salmon from the Fraser River system altered their migratory route around Vancouver Island, with an increased proportion returning through Johnstone Strait (Fig. 4.6).

5I°N -

48° N

I28°W I23°W Fig. 4.6 Return migration routes, Fraser River sockeye salmon.

Ideally, the effects observed above could be compared to those observed during a series of El Nino episodes as a means of establishing a pattern. However, due to the infrequent occurrence of the impacts of El Nino events in the northeastern Pacific and the lack of a consistent ocean environment/fisheries monitoring system, only tentative conclusions can be drawn about the former effects of El Nino events on salmon. Reduced coho survival

In the OPI area, returns of adult coho salmon are routinely predicted from returns of precocious (i.e., those returning one year early) "jack" males during the previous year. This index shows a remarkably good rate of success for the period 1977-86 with only the El Nino year 1983 falling well below the prediction (Hayes &


K.A. Miller and D.L. Fluharty

Henry, 1985; Pearcy & Schoener, 1987; Pearcy, 1991). Examination of historic catch records confirms that El Nino events and the years just following those events tend to be periods of low coho catches in Washington and Oregon but the low harvests are not single events, they are nested generally in declining catch trends. For example, in Fig. 4.4b it can be seen that the commercial harvest of coho in Washington was relatively low in 1983 and 1984 as well as during the entire period from 1957 through 1964, with a record low in 1960. The Washington coho harvest was also low from 1942 through 1944, following, but not during, the El Nino event of 1940-41. The pattern in Oregon is similar (Fig. 4.4c), with harvests significantly below the long-term trend in 1983 through 1985 and 1958 through 1962. Reduced size of salmon Dressed weights of troll-caught chinook and coho salmon from Washington, Oregon, and California were very low during and immediately after the 1982-83 El Nino (Table 4.1). The 1984 figure for California coho does exceed the long-term average, but the 1983 figure is substantially below average. While there is an absence of solid evidence about the cause of the weight loss, the Table 4.1 Commercial troll-caught salmon dressed weights in pounds (kg)

Long-term average



5.7 (2.59) 5.5 (2.50) 4.6 (2.09)

4.4 (2.00) 3.4 (1.54) 4.2 (1.91)

7.4 (3.36) 5.1 (2.32) 4.5 (2.04)

9.8 (4.45) 9.6 (4.36) 10.8 (4.90)

7.3 (3.31) 8.2 (3.72) 10.5 (4.77)

8.7 (3.95) 8.5 (3.86) 9.4 (4.27)


CA OR WA Chinook


CA = California; OR = Oregon; WA = Washington Source: Pacific Fisheries Management Council, 1989

Northeastern Pacific salmon



most likely explanation would be some sort of depression of food supply at the necessary time for adult salmon growth. Comparable weight data do not appear to be available from previous El Nino periods. Poor coho smolt survival Considerable interest in understanding ocean survival of salmon has led to the systematic sampling of juvenile salmon in the OPI area. Because of a continuous series of survey data on salmon abundance, location, and growth, it is possible to determine that survival of juvenile coho was extremely poor in 1983 and 1984 (Fisher & Pearcy, 1988). Because the young salmon grew normally in these years despite below-average primary productivity in the ocean, the suspected cause of mortality is considered to be predation by other species of fish and possibly sea birds. Predators may find juvenile coho an alternative prey when natural abundance of normal prey species is decreased by the lower productivity of ocean waters during El Nino periods. Increased rates of predation on juveniles from hatchery stocks may also be a factor (Walters, 1988). No time series data on juvenile survival are available from previous El Nino periods in the northeast Pacific. Diversion of migratory route - Fraser River sockeye Under normal conditions, the majority of sockeye salmon returning to the Fraser River enter the Strait of Juan de Fuca where they are first intercepted by US fishers. They then turn to the northeast into Canadian waters where they become available to Canadian fishers. A small percentage of the run usually passes around the northern end of Vancouver Island through Johnstone Strait, migrating southward to the Fraser estuary, and remaining entirely in Canadian waters (see Fig. 4.6). During the El Nino event of 1957-58, there was a major increase in the diversion of Fraser River sockeye through Johnstone Strait with approximately 35 percent of the run following that route (IPSFC, 1959). During the 1982-83 El Nino event, the diversion reached a record high, with over 80 percent of the sockeye run using the northern migration route through Johnstone Strait. The diversion rate appears to have no discernable effect on the abundance of Fraser River sockeye, but it makes a large difference in terms of which nation's fishers find the salmon most accessible.


K.A. Miller and D.L. Fluharty

As long as this diversion has been recognized, efforts have been made to understand its mechanisms and to predict its occurrence (Barber, 1983). Speculations on the mechanisms include temperature, salinity, olfactory cues, and sea level. Recent work points to temperature anomalies off northern Vancouver Island as being an important factor (Hamilton, 1985). Warm years in the area northeast of Vancouver Island generally result in higher diversion rates than cool years. Quantitative forecasts made using a diversion model based on temperature appear to predict this phenomenon fairly well (Xie & Hsieh, 1989). Major El Nino periods seem to result in diversion rates higher than other locally warm years. Other effects of El Nino events on salmon have been mentioned in the literature - for example, reduction in fecundity, timing of runs, condition of the salmon, etc. - but these are not as well studied as those noted above (PFMC, 1984; Pearcy & Schoener, 1987). Thus, much remains unknown about the biological effects of El Nino on salmon in the northeastern Pacific. In summary, El Nino years can be said to provide a limited but useful set of insights on possible sources of variation in salmon catches but considerably more work is needed to advance this line of inquiry. Long-term variations in ocean environment and salmon abundance If El Nino events provide limited "experimental" evidence of the influence of ocean environment, are there other extremes that can provide insights? Some clues may be provided by the period of generally high harvests of coho in Washington, Oregon, and California and of chinook in British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon in the mid-1970s, as well as by the record high total salmon catches in Alaska in the early to mid-1980s. This period coincided with decreased harvests of coho and chinook to the south. Generally, it is thought that the cool temperatures and strong upwelling that were experienced off Washington and Oregon in the mid-1970s provided favorable conditions for salmon survival and growth. In contrast, anomalously warm water in the northeastern Pacific is thought to have contributed to favorable conditions for salmon survival off Alaska in the early 1980s (Rogers, 1984). Fairly long time series of sea surface temperature measurements (averaged) are available for the northeastern Pacific (Fig. 4.7).

Northeastern Pacific salmon fishery 65

While these long-term temperature records confirm the cooling off the coasts of Oregon and Washington, and the warming off Alaska, year-to-year variations in temperatures do not appear to correspond closely with variations in harvests, and therefore do not explain all of the variability in catches. This is to be expected because of the multiyear life-cycle of salmon. Thus, the underlying patterns of variation are only partially understood. i i i i | i i i i | i i i i | i i i i | i i i i | i i i i | i i i i | i i i i 0



+O.5O 0

a: -0.50





I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I Ii I 1 I I I I I I I I I







Fig. 4.7 Time series of sea surface temperature averaged over the northeastern quadrant of the North Pacific Ocean. Thin line = 3-month running average; heavy line = 25-month running average (Chelton, 1984).

Research and management response to the 1982-83 El Nino Scientific research At the beginning of 1983, the prospect of a large-scale El Nino event was seen as both an opportunity and a problem by the scientific community. On the one hand, given the rarity of the impacts of El Nino events manifested in the northeastern Pacific, it was felt that every effort should be made to learn as much as possible from it. On the other hand, scientific research agendas had already been set and it would not have been reasonable to abandon planned scientific activities to follow events during the El Nino period. In addition, there were basic problems of funding availability and the lack of a sufficient base of monitoring data on fisheries oceanography with which to compare the El Nino event to normal conditions. Finally, relatively little was known about the impacts of previous El Nino events in the northeastern Pacific - especially from the coast of Oregon northward. The most comprehensive


K.A. Miller and D.L. Fluharty

documentation of the impacts in the region of an El Nino event came from the proceedings of a conference following the 1957-58 El Nino event (CalCOFI, 1960). It was therefore difficult to mount even a modest scientific monitoring effort of the event in 1982-83. The Northwest and Alaska Fisheries Center (NWAFC), under the National Marine Fisheries Service, allocated funds for an El Nino Task Force to coordinate the timely acquisition and exchange of information by Canadian and US scientists and to provide a central focus for mass media information (Fluharty, 1984). In addition, NWAFC funded one researcher to examine the record of biological impacts of previous El Nino events in the northeastern Pacific (A. Schoener, "Changes coincident with past El Nino events in the coastal waters of the eastern sub-Arctic Pacific," unpublished manuscript). Following the El Nino event, NWAFC provided funding and other support for a northeastern Pacific conference to summarize the information gained by researchers during this period (Wooster & Fluharty, 1985). Coincidentally, a major workshop on the influence of ocean conditions on the production of salmonids in the North Pacific was jointly sponsored by the Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies and the Sea Grant Program at Oregon State University (Pearcy, 1984). The research effort coordinated through the Task Force funded by NWAFC was quickly disbanded as the oceanographic signal of El Nino diminished. Some of the scientists went on with other research activities, giving relatively little new emphasis to longterm studies of the effects of the ocean environment on fisheries. However, for the few long-term research and monitoring efforts on salmon, the El Nino period is now starting to yield considerable insights (see Nickelson, 1986; Fisher & Pearcy, 1988; Pearcy, 1991). Salmon fishery management response Given that the impacts of El Nino events are very infrequent and difficult to predict along the northwest coast of North America, fisheries resource managers do not regularly plan for El Nino effects. Prior to the 1982-83 El Nino event, the perception by most salmon managers of El Nino events and of their reputed effects were colored by vague recollection of low salmon years off the US Pacific Northwest during and following the 1957-58 El Nino. Institutional memory of such events is weak given the rapid

Northeastern Pacific salmon



turnover of personnel, the lack of mechanisms to record agency experience, and given the quarter of a century that had passed since the area had been most recently affected by a previous El Nino (R. Hilborn, "Institutional memory of fisheries agencies," unpublished lecture notes, January 1989). Therefore, no explicit contingency planning for El Nino events was drawn up as part of the management process and no guidelines were carried over in administrative protocols (Hilborn, 1987). In the remainder of this section, focus is generally restricted to examination of: (1) management under the Pacific Fisheries Management Council (PFMC) which has jurisdiction over the salmon fisheries off the Washington, Oregon, and California coasts outside the three-mile limit of state jurisdiction, and (2) management under the International Pacific Salmon Fisheries Commission (IPSFC) established by treaty between Canada and the US and having, among other things, principal responsibility for managing the Fraser River sockeye fishery. The Pacific Fishery Management Council The PMFC has had an annual salmon management plan since 1978. This plan is normally developed by a team of biologists and other disciplinary specialists, including individuals from a variety of management perspectives. It is based on an assessment of stocks presented to the Council by the plan development team late in the year prior to the season for which its recommendations apply. Before its adoption by the Council, generally in late spring, the plan undergoes a period of comment and review. Late in 1982, at the time the plan development team was gathering information and starting its deliberations, the first evidence of the impacts of the El Nino event was noted off Oregon (Huyer & Smith, 1985). By February of 1983 there was conclusive evidence that the El Nino event was affecting the PFMC management area. The plan development team did not take this information into consideration in its presentation to the Council, and it appears that no discussion of the possible impact of the El Nino event was held by the PMFC. Thus, no adjustments were made in the 1983 salmon management plan for possible El Nino effects and no provisions were made for in-season adjustments (PFMC, 1983). Procedural difficulties in plan development, unrelated to the El Nino, meant


K.A. Miller and D.L. Fluharty

that the 1983 Council plan had to be implemented under emergency regulations (again, unrelated to El Nino). The plan itself was not finalized until mid-September - long after the bulk of the salmon fishing season had passed. With the advantage of hindsight, it is possible to question why the Council did not devote any attention to the El Nino event and its effect on the plan. Perhaps the PFMC did not act because the strength of the El Nino event could not be realistically estimated at the time - would it be small and disappear or would it increase in intensity? However, even if the Council had wished to respond, it lacked the required scientific basis for the adoption of measures to adjust harvest rates, locations, seasons, or gear types. In addition, the procedural difficulties of hearings and advance notification may have prevented revisions of the plan. The opportunity still existed to use emergency regulations to adjust for El Nino effects if these were deemed necessary based on the regular in-season monitoring of the fishery but, even here, no actions were taken. As a result of the small run and the Council's inability to make appropriate management adjustments, 1983 escapements to many spawning areas were well below targeted levels. Actual 1983 harvests and escapements demonstrated that ocean conditions affecting the survival, catchability and condition of salmonids in the northeastern Pacific differed significantly from those of "normal" years. For coho and chinook stocks, the PFMC's pre-season stock assessments considerably overestimated the abundance of actual runs, in virtually every instance (Table 4.2) (Hayes & Henry, 1985). It should be noted that the North Pacific Fishery Management Council pre-season estimates for Alaskan stocks erred in the opposite direction by considerably underestimating the record returns of many stocks. Given the problems with the management of harvest and escapement in the 1983 season, it was decided that the 1984 plan should incorporate an "El Nino adjustment factor" to take into account the presumed higher mortality of salmon stocks due to the anomalous oceanic conditions (PFMC, 1984). As part of the development of the 1984 management plan (Hayes & Henry, 1985), the normal stock predictors for 1984 were reduced by an adjustment factor of approximately 30 percent. In the light of experience, the adjustment was perhaps too conservative as it underestimated the actual run size in the OPI area

Table 4.2 Estimated adjustments for anticipated impacts of El Nino to 1984 stock abundance forecasts by area and stock

Area/stock Coho OPI Private Hatcheries Willapa Grays Harbor Washington Coastal Puget Sound Chinook California Central Valley Klamath Columbia River Lower River Natural Hatchery Upriver Brights Bonneville Pool Hatchery a b

1983 Abundance estimates (x 1000 fish) PrePostseason season


El Nino adjustment factor

1984 Abundance estimates ( x 1000 fish) Forecasts PostUnadjusted Adjusted season

1553.6 n/a 70.0 103.3 40.8 1213.7

657.9 n/a 27.8 56.3 32.7 1154.2

0.42 n/a 0.40 0.55 0.80 0.956

0.69 0.71 0.61 0.72 0.85 0.89

806.6 119.0 52.3 56.4 44.4 1187.8

556.6 84.0 31.9 40.6 37.7 a 1064.8

658.7 119.5 88.6 n/a 72.8 n/a

756.6 70.1

350.6 57.9

0.46 0.83

0.72 0.93

651.9 55.0

469.4 51.0

504.3 43.3

26.4 162.5 77.8

18.3 86.4 81.5

0.69 0.53 1.05

1.00c 0.50c 1.00c

n/a n/a n/a

16.7 69.6 90.1

12.9 81.5 159.1








Grouped data: team analysis by five units Grouped data: adjusted for absence of Area 20 fishery

Calculated by Columbia River Management Group Source: Hayes and Henry (1985)


K.A. Miller and D.L. Fluharty

by approximately 20 percent. However, the unadjusted prediction would have overestimated the OPI run by a similar amount (Hayes & Henry, 1985). Regulations based on these predictions resulted in sharp reductions in commercial troll harvests and ocean sport harvests in Oregon and Washington, while the coho and chinook harvests of other commercial gears (the fisheries inside the three-mile limit and not under PFMC jurisdiction, including the Columbia River gillnet fishery), increased. International management of Fraser River sockeye Formal US-Canadian cooperation in the management of Fraser River sockeye salmon dates from the ratification of the International Pacific Salmon Fisheries Treaty in 1937 (IPSFC, 1939). A major management objective has been an equal division of the annual Fraser River sockeye harvest from Convention waters (i.e., the Strait of Juan de Fuca and southern Strait of Georgia) between US and Canadian harvesters. Another important objective has been assuring adequate escapement of each racial stock. When these management objectives were initially set, apparently little attention was given to the potential complication of large interannual changes in the Johnstone Strait diversion. In most years, diversion rates ranged between 10 and 25 percent. An unusually high rate of diversion (35%) occurred during the 1957-58 El Nino. This led the IPSFC to make emergency amendments to its management measures for the 1958 season, including closings in Canadian waters and extra openings in US waters (IPSFC, 1959). Emergency regulations have been used during other high diversion years, such as in 1983 when the 1982-83 El Nino resulted in a record high diversion through the Johnstone Strait, exceeding 80 percent. High rates of diversion also occurred in 1972 (34%), 1978 (53%), 1980 (70%), and 1981 (67%) (Hamilton, 1985). Over the years, efforts to balance the harvest between the two national fisheries have been relatively successful, given the occasional use of emergency regulations. However, this success began to erode as the Canadian troll fisheries expanded outside Convention areas, reducing the effective control of the IPSFC. In addition, both Canada and the US (Washington State) have had difficulty achieving desired allocations for native American bands (tribes)

Northeastern Pacific salmon



and among gear types. The inability of salmon managers to accurately forecast changing diversion rates during the late 1970s and early 1980s, meant that goals for the equitable sharing of the harvest were not achieved even with the use of emergency in-season adjustments. During 1983, for example, the US share of the harvest fell to 39 percent, its lowest level since 1947. In 1985-87, the US share was also well below 50 percent (Washington State Department of Fisheries, 1987). In 1985, the IPFSC was replaced by the Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC) as a result of a new Convention between Canada and the US on the conservation, management, and optimum production of Pacific salmon (PSC, 1986). Management under the PSC has become increasingly complex. It involves pre-season estimates of stocks, and negotiation of allocations and escapement goals as well as in-season management involving monitoring and adjustment of fishing schedules to meet objectives for catches, escapement, allocations, and estimates of racial composition of the salmon stocks. This type of management incorporates considerable flexibility which promotes the protection of the resource despite its inherent variability. However, this arrangement is also very costly. A "payback" policy instituted in 1988 calls for compensation during the following season of harvests diverging from an agreed division of the catch between the two nations. This may reduce the future cost of monitoring and of in-season management adjustments. The cost of management may also be reduced if variations in the Johnstone Strait diversion rate become more predictable in the future. Recent research suggests some progress toward that goal (Hamilton, 1985; Xie & Hsieh, 1989).

Sorting out the socioeconomic impacts of the 1982-83 El Nino Just as it is difficult to sort out the biological effects of the 1982-83 El Nino along the Pacific Northwest coast, so it is difficult to determine the socioeconomic impacts. A cursory analysis, focusing only on the fortunes of commercial salmon trailers and charter-boat operators along the Washington, Oregon, and California coasts might conclude that the El Nino had nothing but deleterious impacts. Yet, Alaskan salmon harvesters and con-


K.A. Miller and D.L. Fluharty

sumers of salmon fared quite well during this period. While the specific effect of the El Nino on the Alaskan harvest, as opposed to other factors, is an unresolved question, it is clear that a different picture is obtained by taking a broad rather than a narrow view of the northeastern Pacific salmon fishery during the El Nino period. Impacts on commercial harvesters From the harvest figures presented in Table 4.3, it can be readily inferred that the impacts of El Nino were highly uneven. While Alaskan harvests continued to increase, harvesters targeting the stocks of coho and chinook along the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California were hard hit. In Washington, northern Puget Sound purse seiners and gillnetters were also hurt by the reduced availability of Fraser River sockeye. For commercial trailers from Washington southward, 1983 was a very bad year. Not only were harvests of their primary target species (coho and chinook) down sharply from already depressed levels, but the prices that they received for the harvest fell to their lowest level in many years. The combination of a small harvest and low prices caused the real ex-vessel value of the troll harvest to plummet in all three states (see Table 4.3). While conditions improved the following year in California, for trailers in Washington and Oregon, 1984 conditions were much worse. This was the case despite the fact that, in both states, the harvests of coho and chinook by other commercial gears increased slightly in 1984. The change in the 1984 distribution of the harvest between trailers and other commercial gears (see Figs. 4.8 and 4.9) can be traced to very restrictive ocean fishing regulations put in place by the PFMC in an effort to prevent overharvesting of stocks weakened by the 1982-83 El Nino, one of the biggest in a century. The fact that both prices and output could fall simultaneously is a result of the highly competitive, international nature of the market for salmon. Prices are determined by world supply and demand, and are influenced by fluctuations in currency exchange rates. There is also a high degree of substitutability between salmon species, and between Alaskan and west coast salmon, particularly in the growing market for fresh and frozen salmon (Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Oregon State University, 1978). In addition, chinook and coho harvested along

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Table 4.3 Commercial troll salmon harvest, real value of harvest, and number of vessels


Washington Year 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988* a

Total catch a Real value d Number (troll) of harvest 6 of vesselsc 7,786 3,409 3,591 2,674 936 201 962 658 763 796

23,430 10,071 7,657 8,190 1,721 462 1,748 1,249 2,030 2,337

2,778 2,626 2,439 2,253 2,045 381 1,259 1,252 883 650

Total catch a Real value^ Number (troll) of harvest 6 of vesselsc 7,273 4,294 5,216 5,057 1,753 621 2,773 5,276 7,142 7,622

Thousand pounds dressed weight Ex-vessel 1988 US$ in thousands c Number of vessels landing salmon d Does not include pink salmon *Preliminary Source: Pacific Fishery Management Council (1989) 6


26,377 11,587 12,380 12,042 2,698 1,799 6,302 8,454 17,362 21,536

3,114 3,875 3,615 3,269 2,951 771 2,050 2,288 2,111 2,053

Total catch a Real value^ Number (troll) of harvest 6 of vessels0 8,746 6,019 6,042 7,996 2,410 2,970 4,630 7,598 9,296 14,671

30,523 18,615 18,522 23,718 5,414 8,529 12,590 16,062 26,539 41,629

4,593 4,738 4,102 4,013 3,223 2,569 2,308 2,582 2,442 2,562


K.A. Miller and D.L. Fluharty 0.4 i i i i i i i i i i







Fig. 4.8 Troll as a proportion of Washington commercial salmon harvest. (Data sources: INPFC, 1952-85; Pacific Marine Fisheries Commission, unpublished data [PACFIN data set, 1986-87].) .0 i i i i i











Fig. 4.9 Troll as a proportion of Oregon commercial salmon harvest. (Data sources: INPFC, 1952-85; Pacific Marine Fisheries Commission, unpublished data [PACFIN data set, 1986-87].)

the Washington, Oregon, and California coasts constitute only a small share of the North American commercial salmon harvest (approximately 3% in terms of weight in 1985, and 11% in 1976 at the peak of this fishery and prior to the recent explosive growth of the Alaskan harvest). There also appears to be a tendency for countervailing movements in the harvest of salmon at other locations.* * For total salmon harvest the Pearson correlation coefficent between Alaskan and Oregon harvests = -0.315; Alaskan and California harvests = -0.584. For

Northeastern Pacific salmon fishery 75

For these reasons, variations in the harvest of coho or chinook in Washington, Oregon, or California, such as those occasionally associated with the El Nino, appear to have virtually no influence on the average prices received by the harvesters.! Since the prices received by west coast trailers are not influenced by fluctuations in local harvests, the harvesters are vulnerable to declines in externally determined prices occurring in conjunction with poor harvests. This is exactly what happened in 1983. Measured in constant 1988 US dollars, the real ex-vessel price of coho harvested in the Oregon troll fishery fell to its lowest level since 1971, while the price for chinook was the lowest since 1975 (PFMC, 1989). The low prices in Oregon may have been partly a result of the small size and poor condition of the salmon harvested there, but the US average prices of coho, chinook, and of the total salmon harvest were also unusually low that year (National Marine Fisheries Service, 1988, 1989). However, the problem of depressed earnings in the coastal salmon troll fishery did not begin in 1983. Participation rates and depressed earnings As the total harvest of coho and chinook in these three states expanded over the course of the 1960s and early 1970s, so did participation in the troll fishery. This unrestricted increase in effort resulted in declining earnings per vessel despite large harvests and increasing real salmon prices. In California, for example, the number of commercial salmon trailers peaked in 1978 at 4,919 (PFMC, 1989). At that time, the size of the fleet had more than doubled since 1972, when 2,392 troll vessels landed commercial salmon in California. In 1960, there had been only 1,365 vessels in the fleet. When California's total commercial salmon harvest reached its alltime peak in 1976, the number of pounds landed was double that coho: Alaskan and Oregon harvests = —0.348; Alaskan and California harvests = —0.389. All of these coefficients are significant at the 95% level of confidence or better. T Regression analysis performed by authors. It was found, for example, that variations in real ex-vessel coho prices received by Oregon trollers bore no statistically significant relationship to variations in either Oregon's coho harvest or to coho harvests elsewhere along the coast. This suggests that other products, including other salmon species, are viewed by the market as good substitutes for coho.


K.A. Miller and D.L. Fluharty

landed in 1960. Even so, and even though the real average price of the fish had increased by US$.64/lb - US$1.41/kg (in 1988 US dollars), real gross annual earnings per vessel had dropped from US$9,048 to US$5,829. The declining coho runs and the collapse of the chinook run in 1983 caused real gross earnings per vessel to drop further to US$1,680. A large number of vessels dropped out of the California troll fishery that year (see Table 4.3), and there were many foreclosures on mortgaged vessels (Bathgate, 1984). In the wake of the El Nino, active participation in California's commercial troll fishery appears to have been permanently reduced. In Washington and Oregon, the troll harvest peaked both in terms of numbers of salmon and real value in 1976. As in California, participation in the troll fishery expanded in response to the high total value of the harvest. After 1979, the earnings of Washington and Oregon trailers decreased rapidly due to a combination of falling prices and reduced harvests. When the effects of the El Nino were felt in 1983, they had already experienced three straight years of relatively disappointing earnings. Recent entrants to the industry who had borrowed money to acquire their vessels may, therefore, already have been in a vulnerable financial position. Concern about "overcapitalization" and resulting low harvester income was a major driving force behind the establishment of limited-entry programs in all of the coastal states. The goal of promoting more effective biological management may also have been a very important driving force. During the late 1970s, the Pacific Fishery Management Council issued a recommendation urging all Pacific Coast states to limit entry into the salmon fishery (Huppert & Odemar, 1986). Washington's limited-entry program had the additional goal of assisting the state in enforcing the terms of the 1974 Boldt decision, which guaranteed Indian treaty rights to take half the salmon that would have naturally returned to the traditional Indian fishing grounds in the absence of interception by other harvesters. Since trailers are generally fishing on mixed stocks and "in-front" of the traditional Indian fishing gears and areas, trolling was targeted early for reduction as part of the effort to comply with the Boldt decree. A moratorium on new troll licenses was instituted in 1976, followed by increasingly stringent gear restrictions and a vessel buy-back program, that ended in 1986 (Jelvik, 1986).

Northeastern Pacific salmon



The division of the salmon harvest between Washington's Indian and non-Indian commercial harvesters seems to have been worked out just immediately prior to the El Nino. In terms of total numbers of salmon, the Indian harvest first reached parity with the non-Indian commercial harvest in 1980, and from 1982 onward, the division appears to be virtually 50-50 (see Fig. 4.10). 8000+



1986 YEAR

Fig. 4.10 Washington salmon harvest by user group. (Data source: Washington State Department of Fisheries, 1987.)

After peaking in 1976, the share of Washington's salmon harvest taken in the troll fishery declined steadily to a low in 1984 (see Fig. 4.8), when the combined effects of the El Nino and of ongoing efforts to reduce the troll fishery resulted in a troll harvest of only 97,000 salmon (down from more than 1.7 million salmon in 1976). It is somewhat ironic that coho and chinook were the species most seriously affected by the El Nino, since they are the most important to the already stressed troll fishery. For Washington trailers, the distress caused by the El Nino was apparently compounded by ongoing regulatory changes. In California, a moratorium on salmon troll permits went into effect in 1980 followed by a limited-entry program in 1982. This program allowed a large number of historically active vessels to remain licensed and included no buy-back or other directed fleet reduction program. Therefore, the subsequent reductions in fleet size can be attributed to the effects of reduced run sizes, low salmon prices, and increasingly restrictive fishing regulations (Huppert & Odemar, 1986). In Oregon, participation in the troll fishery peaked in 1980 when, according to the PFMC (1989), "The establishment of a restricted


K.A. Miller and D.L. Fluharty

vessel permit system drew a number of historically active vessels back into the fishery...". As in California and Washington, the number of active salmon trollers in Oregon has been much smaller in the post-El Nino period than just prior to this event (see Fig. 4.9 for the proportion of the Oregon commercial harvest taken by trollers). The number of troll vessels participating in the Washington, Oregon, and California commercial salmon fishery peaked shortly after total coho and chinook harvests peaked in the mid-1970s. The subsequent period of lower harvests seems to be associated with lower participation, but the fact that limited-entry programs were instituted over this period makes it difficult to interpret the cause of this trend. Only 1984 stands out clearly as a season when large numbers of Washington and Oregon trollers chose not to fish as a consequence of poor runs and the resulting reduction in the fishing season. Emergency changes in state regulations that year (PFMC, 1989) made it possible for trollers to sit out the season without risking the loss of their permits. The movement of vessels into and out of the coastal salmon troll fishery in response to fluctuating returns can be seen as a socioeconomic response to the inherent variability of this fishery. This response has perhaps been facilitated by the fact that the capital requirements for commercial trolling are quite modest, and since most of the coastal spawning runs occur in the summer, trollers have traditionally included many part-time participants who pursue other occupations as their primary source of income. Those trollers who derive most of their income from fishing may also fish for crab, tuna, or bottom-fish. The available data on participation indicate that the coastwide reduction in the number of troll vessels over the past decade cuts fairly evenly across all vessel size classes (PFMC, 1989). This suggests that owners of small vessels, many of whom may have been part-timers, were no more likely to be "marginal," in an economic sense, than the owners of larger vessels. Fisherman relief - declaration of disaster Although the total coastwide commercial salmon harvest was at near record levels in 1983 and 1984, from the narrower perspective of salmon fishing interests in Washington, Oregon and California, those years were viewed as disastrous. As has been previously

Northeastern Pacific salmon



shown, the El Nino-related reductions in salmon availability were not the sole cause of the distress experienced by salmon harvesters and related enterprises. Nevertheless, the possibility of obtaining federal disaster assistance from the US Small Business Administration's (SBA's) Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program led these interests to emphasize El Nino as the primary cause of their distress and to call on the governors of their states to declare the event a natural disaster. Governors of the Pacific coast states made disaster declarations and requested federal assistance in late 1983. Washington Governor Spellman's declaration stated that: "Economic hardship has been severe among the salmon and crab fishermen and processors, but a broad range of marine related businesses such as equipment suppliers, shipyards, repair shops, retail stores and hotels also face economic problems due to the devastated fishing industry which normally supports their business" (letter from Governor Spellman of Washington to Regional Administrator, Small Business Administration, S.J. Hall, 23 November 1983). SBA recognized that salmon harvests were substantially below average. However, the SBA initially denied the designations of emergency, arguing that: "The atmospheric or weather condition known as "El Nino" does not of itself constitute a physical disaster" (J.C. Sanders, Administrator of Disaster Assistance Division of the Small Business Administration, telegraphic message to Governor Spellman, 8 December 1983). El Nino is an "atmospheric condition ... not conducive to the operations of a certain type of business," but the possibility of such conditions "constitute[s] part of the risk of being in business" (Rocky Mountain News, 1984). Fishing interests were dissatisfied with this response, and questioned why farmers were eligible for disaster assistance during droughts but not fishing interests affected by a similar short-term condition. Pointing to the fact that the US Agency for International Development had provided approximately US$100 million in disaster aid to South American countries affected by El Nino, they turned to their Congressional delegations for assistance. Under continued pressure from Congress, the SBA reversed its decision on the disaster declaration in late September 1984, making low interest loans (4% for up to US$500,000) available to fishing-related businesses (The Seattle Times, 1984b). SBA was thus forced to provide assistance despite the agency's serious mis-


K.A. Miller and D.L. Fluharty

givings about the financial health of the industry and the ability of the borrowers to repay the loans even under normal conditions. The agency was also concerned about setting a precedent of becoming a banker for weather-sensitive businesses. For SBA, the losses were part of doing business in fisheries, analogous to losses incurred by a ski resort operator without snow or a beach resort with no sun. Some years are bad, but others may be very good. The program loaned approximately US$28 million, in a total of 319 loans, to west coast fishing firms. However, given the delay in availability of funds, many individuals had already defaulted on loans and lost vessels and collateral and had suffered other personal damages (The Seattle Times, 1984a,b). Although salmon harvesters had been instrumental in gaining implementation of the program, its biggest beneficiaries were Bering Sea crab fishing firms. The final decision to provide assistance was not the result of an objective analysis of the situation. Rather, it was the result of pressure from local politicians responding to a powerful and highly visible natural-resource-based interest group. In retrospect, this episode provides a microcosm of issues surrounding efforts to come to grips with global climate change issues. There is enormous uncertainty surrounding the assessment of climate impacts, particularly in the case of a fishery. SB A was not prepared to perform such an assessment, since the agency was unaccustomed to dealing with climate-related biological impacts on fisheries and did not have a staff of oceanographers and biologists to provide technical advice. As should be clear from the previous discussion, it would be extremely difficult and probably prohibitively costly to determine accurately the level of the biological impacts of an event like an El Nino and to further determine the socioeconomic effects directly and solely attributable to those impacts. This suggests that governmental decisions to allocate public funds for assistance are likely to continue to be made largely on a political basis. Impacts on other interests Consumers of salmon were largely unaffected by the reduced harvests of coho and chinook in Washington, Oregon, and California during 1983 and 1984. The Alaskan salmon industry had been

Northeastern Pacific salmon fishery 81

moving strongly away from canning and into the fresh and frozen market for several years before the El Nino event (Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Oregon State University, 1978). This fact, coupled with the rapid growth in Alaskan harvests simply overwhelmed the effects of reduced coastal coho and chinook harvests in the retail market for fresh and frozen salmon. There may, however, have been some adverse effects on consumers in certain sub-markets. For example, large troll-caught chinook and coho (as opposed to net-caught) are especially desired for the production of smoked salmon. The reduced availability of these particular salmon may therefore have affected consumers in that market. While processors were reported to be adversely affected by the El Nino, their operations are often well designed to deal with fluctuating harvests. Many deal with the problem of biological variability by diversifying across a wide variety of species. As seasons may be short for any given species, diversification allows a more complete utilization of processing capital. Processors may also structure their buying arrangements to promote harvester loyalty and insure a more even utilization of processing capacity. For example, season-end bonus payments are commonly used, and a purchase agreement for salmon may also bind the harvester to sell that year's crab harvest to the same processor. The salmon sport fishery was also affected by the El Nino and resulting changes in fishing regulations, particularly in 1984 in Washington. The Washington sport harvests of coho and chinook actually increased slightly in 1983, relative to 1982, but then dipped in 1984 when season restrictions caused a sharp drop in the number of charter-boat trips and, therefore, in revenues for those businesses. Reduced harvester incomes and poor salmon sport fishing seasons undoubtedly had adverse economic impacts on a number of coastal communities. The magnitude of those impacts would, however, be very difficult to determine, particularly since this was a period of general economic recession, with high unemployment rates also in the locally important lumber industry.


K.A. Miller and D.L. Fluharty

Conclusions and lessons for global warming Several conclusions can be drawn from this case study that shed light on the potential biological and socioeconomic impacts of global climate change. First, this case study demonstrates that both the biological and socioeconomic impacts of climatic variability are very complex and, at present, poorly understood. Salmon stocks in the northeastern Pacific appear to be affected by both short-term ocean-climate events such as El Nino and by longerterm variations in patterns of sea surface temperatures, upwelling, and primary productivity. However, little is known about the exact nature of the impacts of the ocean environment on salmon. Salmon abundance may also be affected by changes in runoff patterns in spawning streams, and the effects of changes in ocean circulation patterns and salinity levels are unknown. The interactions between climate-related ocean conditions and salmon abundance are so complex that there has been a tendency to view the ocean as a "black box." However, there has been recent research progress in this area. Although some observers debate the value of additional research and of improved monitoring of oceanic and other environmental conditions for annual management purposes (Walters & Collie, 1988), such efforts may improve our understanding of the effects of long-term climate changes. The socioeconomic effects of variations in salmon abundance are also complex. The impacts in any given region are intertwined with the effects of changing salmon abundance elsewhere, as well as with the effects of changing market conditions and regulatory programs. It has been shown that the apparent biological effects of the 1982-83 El Nino were highly uneven, and that this unevenness exacerbated the impacts of the event on those harvesters relying on adversely affected stocks. This suggests that climate change will, likewise, have uneven impacts. While individuals in one region may lose as a result of climate change, there may be winners elsewhere. It is easy to misconstrue the net socioeconomic effects of climatic events or of projected climate changes if one focuses only on adversely affected regions, or if the market effects of expanding output in other regions are misunderstood.

Northeastern Pacific salmon



This complexity suggests that, even as they occur, the impacts of global climate change onfisheriesmay be far from obvious. This should lead us to be wary of facile conclusions drawn about the anticipated impacts of global climate change. This can also be seen as an argument in favor of improving our base of research on climate impacts. We can have little hope of correctly anticipating the effects of potential climate changes without an improved understanding of the interactions between climate, biological processes, and the socioeconomic activities dependent on those processes. The El Nino period described in this case study gives us a glimpse of the kinds of biological and socioeconomic effects that may accompany the increased frequency of previously unusual climatic conditions. A change in the relative frequency of various climatic extremes is one of the potential effects of CO 2/trace gasinduced climate change (Mearns et al., 1984). With limited scientific and managerial resources, little attention is generally given to the potential effects of rare events until such an event occurs. At that time, both the scientific and managerial responses may, of necessity, be ad hoc. A conclusion that can be drawn from the El Nino experience is that the scientific understanding of the impacts of an El Nino event on salmon was so fragmentary and uncertain that there was little basis upon which to make stock predictions for management purposes. In 1983, this left salmon management largely unprepared for the reduced abundance and poor condition of Washington, Oregon, and California coho and chinook stocks and for the altered migration pattern of Fraser River sockeye. In 1984, the conservative strategy adopted by the Pacific Fisheries Management Council resulted in a severely diminished coastal trollfishery,while harvests improved for operators of other gears. This suggests that efforts to equitably balance in-season harvest allocations among competing gears are unlikely to succeed when managers are confronted with conditions outside their range of recent experience. Since climate change may increase the frequency with which resource managers confront unusual climate-related conditions, this case suggests that it may be valuable to devote increased attention to anticipating the effects of currently unusual climate-related conditions and to planning response strategies. While it is certainly possible to "muddle through" such periods, the El Nino experience suggests that reliance on this approach may have undesirable


K.A. Miller and D.L. Fluharty

consequences such as an increased potential for resource damage or inequity in harvest allocation. The longer-term effects of interannual variability in marine conditions on the salmon fishery and socioeconomic adaptations to this variability are also of interest to those concerned with the potential impacts of global warming. Variability will continue to be an inherent feature of climate, although ranges of variability may change. In the case of the salmon fishery, harvesters, processors, managers, and markets have already adapted to an enormous amount of interannual variability. These adaptations to current variability imply that similar socioeconomic adjustments will be made to the effects of a changing climate. Since adaptations to current variability may provide the avenues for adjustments to climate change, it will be increasingly valuable to understand where they do and do not work well. References Barber, F.G. (1983). Inshore migration of adult Fraser sockeye, a "speculation." Canadian Technical Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Science No. 1162. Ottawa: Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Barber, R. & Chavez, F. (1983). Biological consequences of El Nino. Science, 222, 1203-10. Bathgate, D.L. (1984). Fishermen's Response to Reduced-Seas on Management in the Northern California Commercial Salmon Fishery. Doctoral thesis. Boulder: Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado. Bell, F.H. & Pruter, A.T. (1958). Climatic temperature changes and commercial yields of some marine fishes. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada, 15, 625-83. Bevan, D. (1988). Problems of managing mixed-stock salmon fisheries. In Salmon Production, Management and Allocation, ed. W.J. McNiel, pp. 1037. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press. CalCOFI (California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations) (1960). Reports, January 1958 to June 1959. Vol. 7. Monterey: California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations. Cane, M. (1983). Oceanographic events during El Nino. Science, 222, 1189-95. Cannon, G.A., Reed, R.K. & Pullen, P.E. (1985). Comparison of El Nino events off the Pacific Northwest. In El Nino North: El Nino Effect in the Eastern Subarctic Pacific Ocean, ed. W. Wooster & D. Fluharty, pp. 75-84. Seattle: Washington Sea Grant Program, University of Washington. Chelton, D.B. (1984). Commentary: Short-term climatic variability in the northeast Pacific Ocean. In The Influence of Ocean Conditions on the Production of Salmonids in the North Pacific, ed. W.G. Pearcy, pp. 87-99.

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Corvallis: Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies and Oregon State University Sea Grant College Program. Cooley, R. (1963). Politics and Conservation: The Decline of the Alaska Salmon. New York: Harper and Row. Crutchfield, J. & Pontecorvo, G. (1969). The Pacific Salmon Fisheries: A Study of Irrational Conservation. Resources for the Future. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Oregon State University (1978). Socio-Economics of the Idaho, Washington, Oregon and California Coho and Chinook Salmon Industry. Final report to the Pacific Fishery Management Council. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press. Dodimead, A.J., Favorite, F. & Hirano, T. (1963). Salmon of the North Pacific Ocean - Part II. Bulletin No. 13. Vancouver: International North Pacific Fisheries Commission. Favorite, F., Dodimead, A.J. & Nasu, K. (1976). Oceanography of the Subarctic Pacific Region, 1960-1971. Bulletin No. 33. Vancouver: International North Pacific Fisheries Commission. Fiedler, P. (1984). Satellite observations of the 1982-1983 El Nino along the U.S. Pacific coast. Science, 224, 1251-4. Fisher, J.P. & Pearcy, W.G. (1988). Growth of juvenile coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) off Oregon and Washington, USA, in years of differing coastal upwelling. Canadian Journal of Aquatic and Fishery Science, 45, 1036-44. Fluharty, D. (1984). 1982-1983 El Nino Task Force Summary. Seattle: Institute for Marine Studies, University of Washington. French, R. (1977). Incidence of Salmon in Japanese, Polish, and USSR Trawl Catches off California, Oregon, Washington and Southern British Columbia 1976. Northwest and Alaska Fisheries Center Processed Report. Seattle: US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service. Fredin, R., Major, R., Bakkala, R. & Tanonaka, G. (1977). Pacific Salmon and the High Seas Salmon Fisheries of Japan. Northwest and Alaska Fisheries Center Processed Report. Seattle: US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service. Gross, M., Coleman, R. & McDowall, R. (1988). Aquatic productivity and the evolution of diadromous fish migration. Science, 239, 1291-3. Hamilton, K. (1985). A study of the variability of the return migration route of Fraser River sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka). Canadian Journal of Zoology, 63, 1930-43. Harris, C.K. (1988). Recent changes in the pattern of catch of North American salmonids by the Japanese high seas salmon fisheries. In Salmon Production, Management, and Allocation, ed. W.J. McNeil, pp. 41-65. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press. Hayes, M. & Henry, K. (1985). Salmon management in response to the 1982-83 El Nino event. In El Nino North: El Nino Effect in the Eastern Subarctic Pacific Ocean, ed. W. Wooster & D. Fluharty, pp. 226-36. Seattle: Washington Sea Grant Program, University of Washington.


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Hilborn, R. (1987). Living with uncertainty in resource management. North American Journal of Fisheries Management, 7, 1-5. Huppert, D. k Odemar, M. (1986). A review of California's limited entry programs. In Fishery Access Control Programs Worldwide: Proceedings of the Workshop on Management Options for the North Pacific Longline Fisheries, ed. N. Mollett, pp. 301-2. Alaska Sea Grant Report No. 86-4. Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press. Huyer, A. k Smith, R. (1985). The signature of El Nino off Oregon, 1982-1983. Journal of Geophysical Research, 90, C4, 7133-42. INPFC (International North Pacific Fisheries Commission) (1979). Historical Catch Statistics for Salmon of the North Pacific Ocean. Bulletin No. 39. Vancouver: International North Pacific Fisheries Commission. INPFC (1952-85). Statistical Yearbook, 1952-1985. Annual series. Vancouver: International North Pacific Fisheries Commission. IPSFC (International Pacific Salmon Fisheries Commission) (1939). Annual Report 1938. New Westminster, Canada: IPSFC. IPSFC (1959). Annual Report 1958. New Westminster: IPSFC. Jackson, R. k Royce, W. (1987). Ocean Forum. Surrey, England: Fishing News Books Ltd. Jelvik, M. (1986). Washington State's experience with limited entry. In Fishery Access Control Programs Worldwide: Proceedings of the Workshop on Management Options for the North Pacific Longline Fisheries, ed. N. Mollett, pp. 313-6. Alaska Sea Grant Report No. 86-4. Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press. McLain, D.R. (1984). Coastal ocean warming in the Northeast Pacific. In The Influence of Ocean Conditions on the Production of Salmonids in the North Pacific, ed. W.G. Pearcy, pp. 61-86. Corvallis: Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies and Oregon State University Sea Grant College Program. Mearns, L., Katz, R. k Schneider, S. (1984). Extreme high-temperature events: changes in their probabilities with changes in mean temperature. Journal of Climate and Applied Meteorology, 23, 1601-13. Myers, K., Harris, C , Knudsen, C , Walker, R., Davis, N. k Rogers, D. (1987). Stock origins of chinook salmon in the area of the Japanese mothership salmon fishery. North American Journal of Fisheries Management, 7, 45974. Namias, J. k Cayan, D. (1981). Large-scale air-sea interactions and shortperiod climatic fluctuations. Science, 214, 869-76. National Marine Fisheries Service, Fisheries Statistics Division (1988). Fisheries of the United States 1987. Current Fishery Statistics No. 8700. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. National Marine Fisheries Service, Fisheries Statistics Division (1989). Fisheries of the United States 1988. Current Fishery Statistics No. 8800. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. Netboy, A. (1980). Salmon: The World's Most Harassed Fish. Tulsa, OK: Winchester Press. Nickelson T.E. (1986). Influences of upwelling, ocean temperature, and smolt abundance on marine survival of coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) in

Northeastern Pacific salmon



the Oregon production area. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 42, 527-35. Nickelson, T.E. & Lichatowich, J.A. (1984). The influence of the marine environment on the inter annual variation in coho salmon abundance: An overview. In The Influence of Ocean Conditions on the Production of Salmonids in the North Pacific, ed. W.G. Pearcy, pp. 24-36. Corvallis: Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies and Oregon State University Sea Grant College Program. Northwest Power Planning Council (1986). Council Staff Compilation of Information on Salmon and Steelhead Losses in the Columbia River Basin. Portland: Northwest Power Planning Council. PFMC (Pacific Fishery Management Council) (1983). Proposed Plan for Managing the 1983 Salmon Fisheries off the Coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington. Portland: Pacific Fishery Management Council. PFMC (1984). A Review of the 1983 Ocean Salmon Fisheries and Status of Stocks and Management Goals for the 1984 Salmon Season off the Coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington. Portland: Pacific Fishery Management Council. PFMC (1989). Review of the 1988 Ocean Salmon Fisheries. Portland: Pacific Fishery Management Council. PSC (Pacific Salmon Commission) (1986). Annual Report 1986. Vancouver: Pacific Salmon Commission. Pearcy, W.G. (ed.) (1984). The Influence of Ocean Conditions on the Production of Salmonids in the North Pacific. Proceedings of workshop 810 November 1983, Newport, OR. ORESU-W-83-001. Corvallis: Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies and Oregon State University Sea Grant College Program. Pearcy, W.G. (1988). Factors affecting survival of coho salmon off Oregon and Washington. In Salmon Production, Management, and Allocation, ed. W.J. McNeil, pp. 67-73. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press. Pearcy, W.G. (1991). Ocean Ecology of North Pacific Salmonids. Seattle: Washington Sea Grant Program. Pearcy, W. & Schoener, A. (1987). Changes in the marine biota coincident with the 1982-1983 El Nino in the northeastern subarctic Pacific Ocean. Journal of Geophysical Resarch, 92, C13, 14,417-8. Philander, S. (1983). El Nino-Southern Oscillation phenomena. Nature, 302, 295-301. Quinn, T. & Groot, C. (1984). Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus) migrations: orientation versus random movement. Canadian Journal of Aquatic and Fisheries Science, 4 1 , 1319-24. Rasmusson, E. (1985). El Nino and variations in climate. American Scientist, 73, 168-77. Rasmusson, E. & Wallace, J. (1983). Meteorological aspects of the El NinoSouthern Oscillation. Science, 222, 1195-202. Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO) (1984). Veto threatened of El Nino disaster aid. Tuesday, 5 June 1984, p. 33. Rogers, D.E. (1984). Trends in abundance of northeastern Pacific stocks of salmon. In The Influence of Ocean Conditions on the Production of


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Salmonids in the North Pacific, ed. W.G. Pearcy, pp. 100-27. Corvallis: Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies and Oregon Sea Grant Program. Royce, W.F. (1989). Managing Alaskan salmon fisheries for a prosperous future. Fisheries, 14, 8-13. Schelle, K. & Muse, B. (1986). Efficiency and distributional aspects of Alaska's limited entry program. In Fishery Access Control Programs Worldwide: Proceedings of the Workshop on Management Options for the North Pacific Longline Fisheries, ed. N. Mollett, pp. 317-52. Alaska Sea Grant Report No. 86-4. Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press. Seattle Times (Seattle, WA) (1984a). El Nino victims struggle for aid. 24 March 1984, Bl. Seattle Times (Seattle, WA) (1984b). NW fishermen declared eligible for lowinterest disaster loans. 28 September 1984, C5. Tabata, T. (1984a). Anomalously warm water off the Pacific coast of Canada during the 1982-83 El Nino. Tropical Ocean-Atmosphere Newsletter, 24, 7-9. Tabata, T. (1984b). Oceanographic factors influencing the distribution, migration, and survival of salmonids in the northeastern Pacific Ocean: a review. In The Influence of Ocean Conditions on the Productions of Salmonids in the North Pacific, ed. W.G. Pearcy, pp 128-60. Corvallis: Oregon State University Sea Grant College Program. United States v. Washington (1974). 384 F. Supp. 312 (W.D. Wash. 1974) (Boldt, J.), affirmed, 520 F. 2d 676 (9th Cir. 1975), cert denied, 423 US 1086 (1976), discussed in Washington V.Washington State Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessel Association, 443 US 658, 1979. Walters, C. (1988). Mixed-stock fisheries and the sustainability of enhancement production for chinook and coho salmon. In Salmon Production, Management, and Allocation, ed. W.J. McNiel, pp. 109-15. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press. Walters, C , Hilborn, R., Peterman, R. k Stanley, M. (1978). Model for examining early ocean limitation of Pacific salmon production. Journal of Fisheries Research Board of Canada, 35, 1303-15. Walters, C.J. & Collie, J.S. (1988). Is research on environmental factors useful to fisheries management? Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 45, 1848-54. Washington State Department of Fisheries (1987). 1987 Fisheries Statistical Report Olympia: Department of Fisheries. Wooster, W. & Fluharty, D. (eds.) (1985). El Nino North: El Nino Effect in the Eastern Subarctic Pacific Ocean. Seattle: Washington Sea Grant Program, University of Washington. Xie, L. & Hsieh, W. (1989). Predicting the return migration routes of the Fraser River sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka). Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 46, 1287-92. Young, O. (1977). Resource Management at the International Level: The Case of the North Pacific. New York: Nichols Publishing Co.

The US Gulf shrimp


RICHARD CONDREY and DEBORAH FULLER Coastal Fisheries Institute Louisiana State University Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA

Introduction The US Gulf of Mexico shrimp fishery is one of the most diverse and valuable in the nation. Presently it is mainly dependent upon the harvest of three closely related, estuarine-dependent species: brown, white and pink shrimp (Penaeus aztecus, P. setiferus, and P. duroraum, respectively). The present-day fishery is a classic example of an open access fishery which has been allowed and, in some cases, encouraged to expand well beyond the point of maximum net economic return. The fishery finds itself embroiled in a number of heated controversies especially over the incidental capture of sea turtles and finfish, with red snapper being the current example. Given the sheer size of the industry and the low marginal returns the average shrimper receives, it would be difficult enough for the industry to respond to these charges. Furthermore, recent massive imports of pond-raised shrimp, especially from China, have greatly eroded the shrimpers' already limited economic flexibility. Added to this is the possibility or likelihood of precipitous declines in yields associated with loss of productive estuarine habitats and the release into the marine environment of unspecified amounts of stored toxic wastes. Nothing in the history of the fishery until the mid-1970s prepared the shrimpers to expect anything more than a larger cumulative harvest. During the past 300 years the fishery has undergone a mostly unplanned expansion with little or no regard for the future of the resource. Today, a vocal component of the industry is embroiled in opposition to the required use of devices designed to release endangered sea turtles trapped in shrimp trawls: turtle excluder devices (TEDs). As emotional as the TED issue is, it is dwarfed by the


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implications of the unchecked, continued loss of habitat. While the TED controversy continues, and will likely rekindle with mounting concerns over finfish by-catch, regional management is beginning to deal with the finite, fragile nature of shrimp resources at a time when habitat degradation is anticipated by some to result in declines in yields which may be precipitous. Background Settlement in a rich but fragile system The US Gulf shrimp industry has its origin in the seventeenth and eighteenth century colonization of the New World, and in the seafarers and trade practices of that time. The industry's history centers around the early development of New Orleans (Louisiana) and Biloxi (Mississippi) and the settlement of the surrounding cypress swamps, grassy marshes, and barrier islands. It is a period in which Europeans, Africans, and Asians settled among native Americans in a rich, wild, and fragile environment of tremendous productivity, beauty, and hardship. Buffalo, bear, panther, wolf, and parakeets were abundant as were "crabs, lobsters, scallops, shrimp, and oysters" (Dumont de Montiguy, 1753; Lowery, 1974a,b). The "fish on its shores [were] in such abundance that the noise they made at night, wakened us several times ... Grande Ecaille [tarpon], Red Drum, and very large Catfish, and some Gars" (Cathcart, 1819). Smallpox, yellow fever, floods, and hurricanes were frequent visitors, as were pirates and buccaneers. The Mississippi River flowed wild and sweet when the Europeans first arrived. Its mouth was not confined to the present narrow bird-foot delta of some 25 miles (40 km). Rather it extended for more than 160 miles (250 km) along the Louisiana coast through a vast series of bayous and bays characterized by oak-lined natural levees (cheniers) (Iberville, 1699 in Brasseaux, 1979; Du Ru, 1700; Collot, 1826). The natural flow of the River into its rich marshes and bays was such that, when in 1785 Don Jose de Evia explored the lower reaches of Barataria Bay (a fingerling bay to the west of the Mississippi delta), he reported that "on the bay, which is a large one, one always encounters a strong current." That strong current, absent today, was the flow of the

US Gulf shrimp fishery 91

Mississippi River through its vast delta (Stielow, 1975). With European settlement, a process of leveeing was begun by at least 1722 (Kniffen & Hilliard, 1988). As for the quality of these waters which drained the heartland of America, Stoddard (1812, p. 164) noted that "The people who live on the banks of the Mississippi prefer its waters to all others. When filtrated, it is transparent, light, soft, pleasant, and wholesome." French and Spanish interest in the region was minimal, because the colony lacked the "golden plunder" obtained in Central and South America. While trade was officially limited to the sovereign nation or its commercial designee, smuggling was a socially accepted practice, which was partially condoned by the Spanish governors out of a necessity to obtain supplies. A quasi-official smuggling route occurred between British/US-held Baton Rouge and New Orleans, while the bayous, swamps, and marshes south of New Orleans provided the smuggler an endless array of hiding places (Saxon, 1940). This early stamp of self-reliance and at times an almost casual disregard for regulations imposed from outside the colony was to persist. The region around New Orleans was settled by a rich and diverse ethnic mixture: first the French (Creole and, later, Acadian) settled among the native Americans. They were followed by "Spaniards, Italians, Irish, Chinese, Portuguese, Danes, Greeks, Swedes, and Eastern Europeans - peasants driven from their native lands by poverty or repression, sailors who had jumped ship, adventurers of every kind." Fishing, trapping, and abundant household gardens became a way of life in these isolated communities each of which "clung jealously to its own customs and way of life" (Crete, 1981, p. 283). This isolation was broken by periodic, if not frequent, trips to the urban centers to market their fresh catch or contraband, and sometimes to bury their dead. A white shrimp fishery Hearn (1883) provides one of the oldest written accounts of a commercial fishing village in the region. The village was located some 25 miles (40 km) from New Orleans on the southern shore of Lake Borgne. It had been founded more than 50 years earlier by Malay fishermen, some of whom had left their forced participation in the Spanish Crown's Mexico-Philippine trade route. Raised


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on stilts of cypress, the village of thirty residents supplied dried fish and shrimp to the New Orleans market (Kane, 1944). The practice of shrimp drying was expanded by others, and enriched by the addition of Chinese nationals, who exported large quantities of dried shrimp to China. In 1810, Jean Lafitte, a young New Orleans blacksmith, joined a band of pirates or buccaneers who had settled in the existing communities on the barrier islands of Grand Terre and Grand Isle. Sailing under the flags of Central and South American nations, which were in revolt against Spain, Lafitte's band raided both Spanish and neutral ships for goods and slaves. Lafitte brought a harsh new dimension to the culture of these isolated communities, by some accounts taking no prisoners with the exception of African slaves. Lafitte held auctions in New Orleans and Grand Terre which were well attended by wealthy, respectable merchants and planters, eager for well discounted goods and slaves, especially given that the importation of new slaves was not allowed (Saxon, 1940). The native self-sufficiency and fierce independence of those who inhabited this region (including Lafitte's band) were evidenced by the crucial role they played in helping to defeat the British at the Battle of New Orleans in 1814 (Frantz, 1937). In 1875 the Dubois brothers refined the existing process of canning shrimp, and as a result this method, together with drying, became a way to export shrimp outside the local markets (Kniffen & Hilliard, 1988). In 1889, the first year for which complete estimated catch statistics are available, the Gulf shrimp catch was 8.3 million pounds (3.8 xlO 6 kg) with an average ex-vessel price of US$0.015/lb ($0.033/kg). Under sail Scientific inquiries into shrimp and shrimping did not begin until near the turn of the twentieth century. At that time, the fishery was still mainly limited to the estuaries and shallow bays surrounding New Orleans and Biloxi. Harvesting was accomplished by crews of up to 20 men, pulling seines which were sometimes in excess of 2,000 feet (600 m) long. Harvests were limited by water temperature to the warmer months of the year and by access

US Gulf shrimp fishery


to market. Vessels were large row boats, fitted with sails. Principal products were canned and dried shrimp. There were two seasonal closures in Louisiana, which had evidently been enacted as a result of industry's concerns. Both were intended to prevent the harvest of "small" white shrimp less than 4 inches (10 cm) in length (Louisiana Conservation Commission, 1920). The fishery was predominately dependent on white shrimp and occasionally used a smaller "sea-bob" shrimp (Xiphopenaeus kroyeri) in the production of dried shrimp. The brown shrimp, which is currently a major portion of the US Gulf harvest, was "never as abundant as either the sea-bob or lake (white) shrimp, and consequently are almost negligible as a commercial proposition" (Tulian, 1920, p. 108). By 1908 the reported Gulf catch had increased by 50 percent (from 1889) to 12.6 million pounds (5.72 million kg) and the ex-vessel value had jumped to US$0.021/lb ($0.046/kg). The fishery operated differently earlier in the twentieth century than it does today. Schools of white shrimp were hunted by the use of a cast net or by sightings of "white boils on the water surface" or "muddy boils" indicating feeding shrimp (Julius Collins, personal communication, 1990). Frank Schoonover (1911) reached a shrimp and fish drying platform (Manila Village, Fig. 5.1) some 25 miles (40 km) south of New Orleans after "a day's journey and more by waterway through a great swamp." His account is instructive because the great swamp, the great schools of white shrimp, and the platform he found do not exist today and soon the remnant of the marsh will be gone. As we drew near there spread before our eyes a great fleet of sailing boats with red sails drying in the sun; dugouts, painted green and red, were tied to a wharf that ran back to a huge platform . . . . [A]nd extending back along a narrow bayou were twenty or more houses, all raised high above the water on posts of cypress . . . . There were French, Creole, Mexicans, Spaniards, half-tamed men of the Manila Islands, dark-skinned Indians . . . (p. 81). We could see the old Captain . . . as he made cast after cast with a small net . . . . After a time the schooner drops the peak of her sail and a seine fifteen hundred feet or more is played out. The Captain has found a great


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school of shrimp . . . . Presently a lot of men, maybe a dozen, are splashing about, tugging and pulling in the marsh at a long rope . . . . [N] othing but their heads can be seen above the tall grass . . . . With long-handled dip-nets the live shrimp are lifted and dumped into the schooner . . . . The Captain and the crew are fortunate, . . . the catch is estimated to be a hundred baskets [7,000 pounds]

... (pp. 84-5).

Fig. 5.1 A drawing by Frank Schoonover (1911) showing a traditional turkeyred sail boat setting out from the drying platform (Manila village) in the early morning hours to hunt for great schools of white shrimp.

Under power As would be repeated, the advent of scientific inquiries brought about an expansion of the industry. Atlantic coast fishermen observed scientists from the US Bureau of Fisheries using trawls. The fishermen modified the gear for their purposes and began pulling trawls in 1912 (Johnson & Lindner, 1934). The trawl entered the Gulf in 1917 and the fishery began a period of further expansion and mechanization. The roar of gasoline engines replaced the ruffle of sails and ripple of oars and were themselves replaced by diesel engines. Open skiffs were fitted with cabins. The fishery was no longer limited to the height of a man pulling a seine or by a scarcity of manpower brought on by World

US Gulf shrimp fishery


War I. By 1920, in Louisiana at least, the fishery had tested the Gulf waters out to 18 miles (29 km) and found, according to management, "an immense fishing ground where a boundless supply of adult (white) shrimp always exist, with endless possibilities for the future of the shrimp industry" (Tulian, 1920). In comparison to 1908, the 1918 reported catch of 29 million pounds (13 million kg) indicates a near tripling of the catch. Ex-vessel value also rose by more than 50 percent to US$0.034/lb ($0.075/kg). Management considered the trawl more advantageous than the seine, as it was "generally operated in deeper water," "usually took only bottom species" which were generally "second class fish" in comparison to "the important shore and surface feeders which were taken incidentally in seining" (Tulian, 1924). Scientific management also became concerned with growth overfishing and saw a necessity to limit the harvest of shrimp less than 6 inches (15 cm) via closed seasons (Viosca, 1924). Management was largely unconcerned with recruitment overfishing, feeling that adult shrimp in the Gulf were "largely protected by natural conditions" and suggested that laws be enacted which would allow fishermen to harvest adults "whenever and wherever they may" (Viosca, 1928). After 1900, the northern Gulf coast entered into an era of commercial industrial expansion based upon the exploration for and exploitation of oil and gas. Refineries and chemical plants were set up near major oil and gas fields, many being built along the Mississippi and other major rivers and bays (Louisiana Writers' Project, 1941). By 1989 these activities would play a major role in making Louisiana and Texas the leaders in emissions of toxic gases and liquid wastes in the nation. The highly destructive 1927 flood of the Mississippi River ended the somewhat patchwork-like system of discontinuous public and private levees. The US Army Corps of Engineers was charged with developing and maintaining a series of continuous levees south of Baton Rouge, Louisiana to the mouth of the Mississippi. It would construct a system which would deprive the surrounding marshes of most of the Mississippi's freshwater and mineral-rich silt, while sending much of the latter cascading down the continental shelf. Bays such as Barataria would no longer be characterized by constant currents that resulted from the vital flow of the Mississippi River.


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In the 1930s, oil and gas exploration activities, including seismic blasts, entered the marshes. The account of Louisiana's Lafitte Oil Field, located in the estuarine heart of the Gulf shrimp fishery, is instructive. "Additional canals, essential because the ground will not support the weight of a man are being built. Storage tanks and field buildings are set up on the edge of the canals." The canals and marsh buggy scars will speed the inflow of saltwater into marshes already deprived of much of the Mississippi's flow (Louisiana's Writers' Project, 1941). The landings and value of shrimp continued to increase. By 1928 the reported catch was 79 million pounds (36 million kg) and ex-vessel value was US$0.038/lb ($0.084/kg). This was 2.5 times the 1918 catch, though ex-vessel value was similar [US$0.034/lb ($0.075/kg) in 1918]. A major expansion In 1931 a state-federal cooperative shrimp investigation was initiated between the US Bureau of Fisheries and the natural resource departments of the states of Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. These efforts were initially designed to develop yield models consistent with management's concerns about growth overfishing. They represent the first period of scientific concern over the finite nature of the resource. Writing in the mid-1930s, the chief federal government scientist, Milton Lindner, noted the recent dramatic expansion of the Atlantic shrimp fishery off the southeastern coast of the US, and called for all the states to implement a program for obtaining daily catch statistics (Lindner, 1938). Lindner, like other federal scientists, was concerned about the possibility of spawner-recruit overfishing. They noted that if the annual shrimp spawn was dependent upon a single year class, then the fishery lacked stability and that the results of recruit overfishing could be sudden and severe (Weymouth et al., 1933). "Because of the constantly increasing drain on the shrimp population," Lindner (1938) pointed out the necessity of knowing "whether or not there is a reserve supply of shrimp available beyond the range of the commercial fishery" and for taking appropriate actions if such a reserve did not exist. Ironically, Lindner's desire to determine the extent of a spawning reserve resulted in a rapid expansion of the fishery. Fishermen

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from Florida's east coast migrated with their large Florida-style vessels to Morgan City, Louisiana in 1937, once they learned from Lindner, that same year of his initial efforts to map it, the extent of the large schools of white shrimp off the Louisiana coast (Lindner, 1940). In that single year, the Louisiana annual reported catch jumped from 60 to 76 million pounds (27 to 34 million kg), a 27 percent increase which was credited to the new offshore fishery (Louisiana Department of Conservation, 1944). At the same time the ex-vessel value increased by 28 percent. "A year later (1938) another invasion (the Morgan City vessels being the first), this time by oil drillers, took place" and the continental shelf of the north central Gulf eventually became one of the most important oil exploitation regions in the nation (Kniffen & Hilliard, 1988). In 1938 and 1939 Lindner mapped the shrimp concentrations of the US Gulf "between the beach and the one hundred fathom contour from the Mexican border to Carrabelle, Florida." He found that shrimp were so abundant that "a small nine-foot trawl towed at full speed ... [took] . . . as much as eight gallons of shrimp ... in a half-hour." These studies revealed no additional concentrations of shrimp comparable to those being exploited off the central Louisiana coast and concluded "that there appears to be little likelihood of other offshore areas being [similarly] developed" (Lindner, 1940, p. 391, p. 393). He mentioned no commercial concentrations of brown shrimp, although he was well aware of this species. It is noteworthy that great concentrations of brown shrimp would be reported later in a similar survey in 1950. A summary of Lindner's findings was published for the general public in Walford's (1947) Fishery Resources of the United States. Walford's pictorial description on the extent of the fishery clearly defines it as a nearshore white shrimp fishery with the Louisiana coast as its geographical center (Fig. 5.2). The advent of World War II essentially ended these scientific studies and any efforts Lindner might have contemplated to protect the stock of white shrimp whose spawning grounds were now completely covered by the fishery. The offshore component of the shrimp fishery continued a rapid rate of growth and expansion over the period from 1938 to 1948, with a majority of the fleet retaining Morgan City (Louisiana) as its home port. White shrimp continued to account for 95 percent


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X Shrimp occur along the Mexican coast, but how extensively they are distributed, how abundant they are, and whether there is intermigration between them and the stock occurring along the United States coast are unknown.

Commercial Catch Intense H Most Catch

Fig. 5.2 Prior to 1948, the US Gulf and South Atlantic shrimp fishery was mainly restricted to the locally known concentrations of white shrimp. This illustration, taken from Walford (1947), shows where those concentrations were greatest.

of the catch and Louisiana continued as the center of production (Anderson et al., 1949). Beginning in 1946, US shrimpers began fishing off the Mexican coast, and in 1947 at least 48 vessels transferred from US to Mexican registry, so as to shrimp legally in these waters. Others continued to fish outside the Mexican territorial sea. By 1950 the reported US Gulf catch was 143 million pounds (65 million kg) and the reported Mexican Gulf catch was 47 million pounds (21 million kg). A new fishery: shifts in species dominance and abundance In 1948 some shrimpers began to notice increasing catches of brown shrimp. These were difficult to market in Texas, though catches were small, but not in New Orleans where they found a ready market (Denham, 1948a,b). The dominance of white shrimp in the fishery and fishing grounds appears to have ended abruptly in the late 1940s and

US Gulf shrimp fishery 99

early 1950s (Burkenroad, 1949; Viosca, 1958). Available literature (e.g., Werlla, 1954) from that time suggests that it was a cataclysmic drop in abundance of white shrimp which coincided with a sudden increase in abundance of the nontraditional brown shrimp (Fig. 5.3). Toward the end of the decline (in 1957), the white shrimp harvest in Louisiana was reportedly 10 percent of the pre-1952 average (Viosca, 1958), representing a 70 million pound (32 million kg) reduction. The decline was felt by Viosca to be associated with spawner-recruit overfishing and the severe drought of 1952-57 - the impact of the drought was magnified by the greatly restricted flow of the Mississippi River into the marshes (Viosca, 1958). However, growth-overfishing, the spraying of DDT on nearby sugar cane fields (Charles Lyles, personal communication, 1989), and early oil and gas exploration, and manufacturing activities should not be discounted as having had adverse effects on the fishery.

3O°N -

25°N -

20°N -

Campeche 1950-1951 Penaeus duorarum '•. Penaeus aztecus .•;

95°W 90°W 85°W 80°W Fig. 5.3 New shrimping grounds for pink and brown shrimp discovered by shrimpers and the US Bureau of Fisheries during the decline in abundance of white shrimp. (After Springer, 1951.)

Despite the then-national pre-eminence of the Gulf shrimp, it appears that no major national research efforts were undertaken to assess the extent of this decline in white shrimp production or to measure the magnitude of this possible species shift. Rather,


R. Condrey and D. Fuller

national attention focused on the two new fisheries for large brown and pink shrimp. The last expansion In 1948, two vessels from northeastern Florida found fishable concentrations of pink shrimp on the coral-rich bottoms of southeast Florida's Dry Tortugas and a fishery developed almost overnight. Two boats fished the grounds in January; 125 to 175 boats fished in February; and by March 1, there were 250 to 300 boats from all of the US South Atlantic and Gulf states, except Louisiana (Idyll, 1950). The total catch for that first year, 17 million pounds (7.7 million kg) (tails), was the maximum ever recorded for these grounds. Despite what must have been a "gold-rush" development, no caution was suggested by management, at least at the national level. The view was that "much of the area is protected from fishing gear by coral" and that shrimp is an annual crop and the catch does not depend on the accumulation of several age groups... . [T]/iere appears to be no necessity to regulate the fishery ... [unless] later, it appears that small shrimp dominate the catches [to prevent growth overfishing] (Idyll, 1950, pp. 15-6). For at least the third time scientific information helped the fishery to expand. This time it was deliberate. The US Fish and Wildlife Service undertook exploratory fishing operations to assist the industry in the expansion of the newly discovered pink shrimp fishing grounds. Beginning in southern Florida, the fishery continued around the US Gulf coast in a band which later proved to fully encompass the depth distributions of brown, white and pink shrimp. By 1950, these efforts had documented the extent of most of the US-associated habitats of these species (Springer, 1951). Lindner's suggestion that a spawning reserve was needed, or Viosca's concern that white shrimp had been spawner-recruit overfished, did not surface again to any appreciable extent. The scientific management of these species entered a period where it was apparently believed that it was essentially impossible to overfish these resources, for a variety of reasons, including high individual egg production rates and areas of untrawlable bottoms. Lindner's

US Gulf shrimp fishery


concerns over the potential of a cataclysmic decline in such fisheries and Viosca's dramatic depiction of such a decline for white shrimp became buried in the literature. Until this writing, they have remained as muffled calls of concern from the past. The period from 1950 to 1976 is marked by continued growth of the fleet, full use of the domestic fishing grounds, and continued expansion of the foreign fishing grounds into Central and South America (Fig. 5.4). Reported US landings increased to 210 million pounds (95 million kg) with an average ex-vessel value of US$1.31/lb ($2.89/kg) in 1976, as compared to 143 million pounds (65 million kg) and US$0.06 to US$0.28 ($0.13 to $0.62/kg) exvessel value in 1950.

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Gulf of Mexico SHRIMP CATCH (Thousand Pounds of Tails)



What is the difference between climate change and climate variability PDF? ›

Climate variability includes short-term fluctuations around the average weather, such as the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Climate change is the change in long term averages of the daily weather and operates over decades or longer and is projected using increasingly sophisticated earth system models (ESMs).

Is climate variability and climate change the same? ›

Climate variability includes all the variations in the climate that last longer than individual weather events, whereas the term climate change only refers to those variations that persist for a longer period of time, typically decades or more.

What are the 5 major effects of climate change? ›

More frequent and intense drought, storms, heat waves, rising sea levels, melting glaciers and warming oceans can directly harm animals, destroy the places they live, and wreak havoc on people's livelihoods and communities.

What are the 3 main impacts of climate change? ›

The potential future effects of global climate change include more frequent wildfires, longer periods of drought in some regions, and an increase in the duration and intensity of tropical storms.

What is the major cause of climatic variability? ›

While the long-term trends of climate change are considered by scientists to be largely human-caused, climate variability is mostly due to natural oscillations in the earth's systems (though there are some proposed exceptions).

What are the impacts of climate variability? ›

Changes in temperature and precipitation, and resulting shifts in plant phenology, winter severity, drought and wildfire conditions, invasive species distribution and abundance, predation, and disease have the potential to directly or indirectly affect ungulates.

What are the types of climate variation? ›

Climate variations can be categorized into two broad contexts. Natural Climate Variation: There are several natural causes that force climate to change across time and scale. It can be further drilled down into the following categories. Human-induced Climate Variation: Human activities also influence the climate.

What are some factors in natural climate variability? ›

Variations in the sun, volcanic eruptions, and changes in the orbit of the Earth around the sun exert an external control on climate variability. These processes are the driving force behind changes that occur over long time periods, such as oscillations between ice ages and interglacial periods.

What are the problems and solutions of climate change? ›

The main ways to stop climate change are to pressure government and business to:
  • Keep fossil fuels in the ground. ...
  • Invest in renewable energy. ...
  • Switch to sustainable transport. ...
  • Help us keep our homes cosy. ...
  • Improve farming and encourage vegan diets. ...
  • Restore nature to absorb more carbon. ...
  • Protect forests like the Amazon.

What are 6 causes of climate change? ›

Causes of Climate Change
  • Heat-trapping Greenhouse Gases And The Earth's Climate. ...
  • Greenhouse Gases. ...
  • Reflectivity or Absorption of the Sun's Energy. ...
  • Changes in the Earth's Orbit and Rotation. ...
  • Variations in Solar Activity. ...
  • Changes in the Earth's Reflectivity. ...
  • Volcanic Activity.
19 Aug 2022

What is the biggest contributor to climate change? ›

Among the various long-lived greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted by human activities, CO2 is so far the largest contributor to climate change, and, if anything, its relative role is expected to increase in the future.

Who is most affected by climate change? ›

The most vulnerable groups, including children, the elderly, people with preexisting health conditions, outdoor workers, people of color, and people with low income, are at an even higher risk because of the compounding factors from climate change.

What is climate change PDF? ›

Observed and anticipated changes in the climate include higher temperatures, changes in rainfall patterns, changes in the frequency and distribution of weather events such as droughts, storms, floods and heat waves, sea level rise and consequent impacts on human and natural systems.

What is an example of climate variability? ›

Climate variability occurs due to natural and sometimes periodic changes in the circulation of the air and ocean, volcanic eruptions, and other factors. For example, the average daily maximum temperature in July, averaged over 30 years from 1988 through 2017, in Boulder, Colorado was 87.7° F (30.9° C).

What is the meaning of climate variability? ›

Climate variability refers to the climatic parameter of a region varying from its long-term mean. Every year in a specific time period, the climate of a location is different. Some years have below average rainfall, some have average or above average rainfall.

What is long-term climate variability? ›

Long-term climate variability is the range of temperatures and weather patterns experienced by the Earth over a scale of thousands of years. New research suggests it could fall as the world warms.

How does climate variability affect animals? ›

Rising temperatures lower many species survival rates due to changes that lead to less food, less successful reproduction, and interfering with the environment for native wildlife. These detrimental changes are already apparent in our National Capital Area parks.

How does climate affect population? ›

Since urban areas feature high concentrations of people, they are also more deadly during natural disasters. If climate change leads to more frequent and intense storms and floods, high-density population centers will be among the most exposed.

How does climate change affect species distribution? ›

Climate changes can act to directly influence species distributions (e.g., drought, floods, wind) as well as indirectly (e.g., temperature and weather related changes in patterns of wildfire, insects, and disease outbreaks).

How does climate change affect human health? ›

Climate change increases the risk of illness through increasing temperature, more frequent heavy rains and runoff, and the effects of storms. Health impacts may include gastrointestinal illness like diarrhea, effects on the body's nervous and respiratory systems, or liver and kidney damage.

When was climate change started? ›

Scientists generally regard the later part of the 19th century as the point at which human activity started influencing the climate. But the new study brings that date forward to the 1830s.

Why is climate change a threat? ›

Climate change is already impacting health in a myriad of ways, including by leading to death and illness from increasingly frequent extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, storms and floods, the disruption of food systems, increases in zoonoses and food-, water- and vector-borne diseases, and mental health issues.

What are the 4 types of climate? ›

one of five classifications of the Earth's climates: tropical, dry, mild, continental, and polar.

What are the 6 types of climates? ›

There are six main climate regions: tropical rainy, dry, temperate marine, temperate continental, polar, and highlands.

What is the best definition of climate change? ›

Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. These shifts may be natural, such as through variations in the solar cycle. But since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of climate change, primarily due to burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas.

What is natural climate change called? ›

Millennial Climate Cycles

Major glacial (cold) and interglacial (warm) periods are initiated by changes in the Earth's orbit around the Sun, called Milankovitch cycles. These cycles have occurred at different intensities on multi-millennial time scales (10,000 – 100,000 year periods).

What is internal variability climate change? ›

Internal climate variability (ICV) refers to as the natural variability of the climate system that occurs in the absence of evolving external forcing and includes processes intrinsic to the atmosphere, ocean, land, and cryosphere and their interactions (Deser et al., 2012; Kay et al., 2015).

What are 10 ways to stop climate change? ›

  1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
  2. Walk, Bike (run, skate, move yourself!)
  3. Ride the bus to work (or carpool)
  4. Plant a tree.
  5. Use Less Heat and Air Conditioning.
  6. Change a Light Bulb.
  7. Buy a fuel efficient car (or hybrid vehicle)
  8. Buy local goods and products.

How do humans reduce the effect of climate change on the environment? ›

For example, improvements to energy efficiency and vehicle fuel economy, increases in wind and solar power, biofuels from organic waste, setting a price on carbon, and protecting forests are all potent ways to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and other gases trapping heat on the planet.

What is cause and effect of climate change? ›

Human activities, such as burning fossil fuels and destroying rainforests, have an increasing influence on the climate and the Earth's temperature. This adds huge quantities of greenhouse gases to those naturally present in the atmosphere, increasing the greenhouse effect and global warming.

Why do we need to stop climate change? ›

Climate change won't just impact forest, or coral reefs, or even people in far-off countries – it will affect all of us. From more extreme weather to increasing food prices, to recreation and decreased opportunities to appreciate the natural world, people everywhere will feel its effects.

What is climate change its causes effects and solutions? ›

While global warming focuses on the rising average temperature of the planet, climate change usually refers to the shifts in things like precipitation, wind patterns, and temperatures over a given period. Measured changes in climate could last a few years, decades, or even millions of years.

What are the effects of climate change essay? ›

Effects Of Climatic Change

These climatic changes have a negative impact on the environment. The ocean level is rising, glaciers are melting, CO2 in the air is increasing, forest and wildlife are declining, and water life is also getting disturbed due to climatic changes.

What is meant by climate variability? ›

Climate variability refers to variations in the mean state and other climate statistics (standard deviations, the occurrence of extremes, etc.) on all temporal and spatial scales beyond those of individual weather events.

What is an example of climate variability? ›

Climate variability occurs due to natural and sometimes periodic changes in the circulation of the air and ocean, volcanic eruptions, and other factors. For example, the average daily maximum temperature in July, averaged over 30 years from 1988 through 2017, in Boulder, Colorado was 87.7° F (30.9° C).

What is meant by climatic variation? ›

Climate variation is when climate patterns are disrupted by phenomenon like the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) or Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). In both cases these phenomenon are not directional, but rather vary between positive and negative phases of state.

What is climate variable? ›

Climate entails the statistical characteristics of weather conditions in a given area. Climate zones are characterized by different combinations of climate variables, such as temperature, precipitation, humidity, and wind.

What are some factors in natural climate variability? ›

Variations in the sun, volcanic eruptions, and changes in the orbit of the Earth around the sun exert an external control on climate variability. These processes are the driving force behind changes that occur over long time periods, such as oscillations between ice ages and interglacial periods.

What are the types of climate variation? ›

Climate variations can be categorized into two broad contexts. Natural Climate Variation: There are several natural causes that force climate to change across time and scale. It can be further drilled down into the following categories. Human-induced Climate Variation: Human activities also influence the climate.

How does climate variability affect animals? ›

Rising temperatures lower many species survival rates due to changes that lead to less food, less successful reproduction, and interfering with the environment for native wildlife. These detrimental changes are already apparent in our National Capital Area parks.

Why is climate change important? ›

Climate change is already impacting human health. Changes in weather and climate patterns can put lives at risk. Heat is one of the most deadly weather phenomena. As ocean temperatures rise, hurricanes are getting stronger and wetter, which can cause direct and indirect deaths.

What is internal variability climate change? ›

Internal climate variability (ICV) refers to as the natural variability of the climate system that occurs in the absence of evolving external forcing and includes processes intrinsic to the atmosphere, ocean, land, and cryosphere and their interactions (Deser et al., 2012; Kay et al., 2015).

What is climate change definition PDF? ›

Climate change refers to significant changes in global temperature, precipitation, wind patterns and other measures of climate that occur over several decades or longer. The seas are rising.

What are the 6 major factors that affect climate? ›

LOWERN is an acronym for 6 factors that affect climate.
  • Latitude. It depends on how close or how far it is to the equator, and it's based on the concentration of sunlight and the area that it affects.
  • Ocean currents. ...
  • Wind and air masses. ...
  • Elevation. ...
  • Relief. ...
  • Nearness to water.

What are the causes and effect of climate change? ›

Human activities, such as burning fossil fuels and destroying rainforests, have an increasing influence on the climate and the Earth's temperature. This adds huge quantities of greenhouse gases to those naturally present in the atmosphere, increasing the greenhouse effect and global warming.

What are the 6 types of climates? ›

There are six main climate regions: tropical rainy, dry, temperate marine, temperate continental, polar, and highlands.

What are the essential climate variables? ›

An ECV is a physical, chemical or biological variable or a group of linked variables that critically contributes to the characterization of Earth' s climate.


1. W13 C10 P02 L01 Climate Change and Impacts Water Resources Lecture 01
(IISER Pune)
2. CGD Seminar - Matt Long
(NCAR Climate and Global Dynamics Laboratory)
3. 'I created the global-warming-stripes graphic' – BBC News
(BBC News)
4. Addressing the Impacts of Climate Change through Law and Policy - Webinar
(Network for Public Health Law)
5. How can we meet demand for aquafeed and farmed fish while protecting small pelagic fish populations?
(Marine Stewardship Council - Sustainable seafood)
6. UPSC Mains 2022 | Geography and Disaster Management | Detailed Analysis |
(Raj Malhotra's IAS Coaching in Chandigarh)

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