Principal Fisheries

The most important world fisheries are located in waters less than 400 m in depth. Major fishing grounds are in the North Atlantic including the GRAND BANKS and the Georges Banks off the New England coast, the North Sea, the waters over the continental shelves of Iceland and Norway, and the Barents Sea; in the North Pacific, specifically the Bering Sea, the Gulf of Alaska, and the coastal areas around Japan; and off the coasts of China and Malaysia. Other important fishing grounds are found off the coasts of the southeastern United States, Chile, Peru, Argentina, and the Falkland Islands, and off the coasts of Namibia and South Africa.

More than one-half of the marine fish catch in the United States is taken in the Northeast Pacific and in Alaskan coastal waters. In 1993 the total of all the Atlantic fisheries given slightly more than 18 percent, with the Gulf of Mexico fishery adding another 16 percent. Pollock, shrimp, sockeye salmon, and snow crab are the most valuable catches – and these, with the exception of shrimp, are all Northeast Pacific fish. Haddock landings off the New England coast decreased in the 1980s because of overfishing. The cod fishery in the Northeast Atlantic collapsed in the early 1990s for the same reason.

The profitable king crab fishery in the Bering Sea broke down in the 1980s, and much of the crab fleet was changed to trawlers, which yielded higher catches of Pacific cod and pollock in joint venture fisheries with foreign processors, who were mainly Japanese and Russian.