The International Commission for the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries
(ICNAF), a treaty organization, is set up on July 3rd to study and
report on fisheries activities and fish stocks in more than two million
square miles of ocean outside the territorial waters of the nations
rimming the northwest Atlantic. Research activities for areas of U.S
interest are largely headquartered at the Woods Hole Laboratory.
The Tuna Conventions Act of 1950 is passed to enforce international
agreements on fishing rights, fishery management, and
The CCRL establishes a field station at Pt. Loma in San Diego, Calif.,
for CalCOFI ichthyoplankton work.
Columbia River research is focused almost exclusively on problems of
fish passage at dams, especially in the diversion of downstream
migrants away from turbine intakes and other sources of mortality.
A sixth regional fisheries office is established in Alaska to
facilitate administration of the Territory's fisheries.
RV John N. Cobb
The RV John N. Cobb is commissioned with a public open house at Seattle,
A field station at Pascagoula,
Miss., is established for fishing and
gear research and to catalog marine fauna of southeastern regional
Significant benefits from early Gulf of Mexico exploratory research
surveys include extension of the brown and pink shrimp grounds,
discovery of a royal red shrimp fishery, and establishment of a
longline fishery for tuna and swordfish.
The RV Oregon becomes the first research vessel designed for
exploration of marine fauna of southeastern waters; it pioneers marine
research in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and tropical western
H.W. Graham becomes director of the Woods
Tuna investigations begin in the northwest Atlantic, leading to a new
and growing east coast tuna industry.
An oceanographer with the Honolulu Laboratory, Townsend Cromwell,
discovers a major new ocean current, now named after him, in the
tropical Pacific. It is about 3,000 miles long and carries more than
1,000 times the volume of the Mississippi River
The first ICNAF meeting is held at Woods Hole.
National Tuna Week, November 5-14 celebrates the 50th Anniversary of
the tuna canning industry. In 1903, the entire U.S. tuna industry
consisted of one cannery in San Pedro, Calif., supplied by a few
boats fishing nearby waters.
Preliminary explorations for salmon in the offshore waters of the Aleutian
Islands are made by the John N. Cobb, mainly to develop techniques for
fishing salmon with gill nets on the high seas.
The International Convention for the High Seas Fisheries of the North
Pacific Ocean establishes the International North Pacific Fisheries
The Annapolis Biological Laboratory is opened by the BCF.
Publication of fundamental work, "Fishes of the Gulf of Maine,"
a standard reference, By W.B. Schroeder and H.B. Bigelow
Hurricane Carol strikes Woods Hole, destroying much of the lab and its
environs, the saltwater pipes and pumps, and resulting in closure of
the public aquarium for several years.
J. Coulton and R. Marak begin plankton surveys of the Gulf of Maine and
Georges Bank to determine the drift of eggs and larvae in the area.
Extensive population studies of sea scallops begun by J.A. Posegay.
The first factory
trawler, the British vessel Fairtry, appears in
international waters on the Grand Banks, ushering in the high-tech,
high-volume fishing vessels that play a major role in declarations of
200-mile EEZs by countries of the NW Atlantic.
The 83rd Congress passes Public Law 466, popularly known as the
Saltonstall-Kennedy (S-K) Act, which sets aside funds for
fishery-product and market research, fisheries development, and other
The Cooperative Game Fish Tagging
North Program begins at the Woods
Hole Oceanographic Institution; it later will be transferred to the NMFS
Southeast Fisheries Science Center
The first survey to determine the distribution of salmon in the eastern
North Pacific Ocean is made in the spring by John N. Cobb, and is
followed later this year by similar cruises with two chartered halibut
schooners, the Mikkov and the Paragon. The general distribution of North
Pacific Ocean salmon will be firmly established by 1961.
The first coastwide samples from the Atlantic menhaden reduction
fishery are acquired; sampling is continuous during the next 40 years.
Congress appropriates money for rebuilding the Woods Hole lab after
The Boothbay Harbor Lab is administratively separated from
All biological research associated with the Alaska finfish fisheries
(except that being performed for the International North Pacific
Fisheries Commission) is transferred from the Montlake Laboratory in
Seattle to Juneau.
From 1956 through 1964, the Montlake Laboratory studies and defines the
biology and populations of king crab in the eastern Bering Sea.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service establishes two bureaus-the Bureau
of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife (BSFW) and the Bureau of Commercial
Fisheries (BCF) with the Boothbay, Woods Hole, Milford, Boston, and
Annapolis Labs going to BCF.
Scripps Tuna Oceanography Research (STOR), composed of Scripps
Institution of Oceanography (SIO) oceanographers and largely supported
by BCF, is established in La Jolla, Calif.
Following full reorganization of the USFWS early in the year, Donald
L. McKernan is designated Director of the new BCF. The Bureau now has a
headquarters and five regional organizations including 80 field
installations, plus the Pacific Ocean Fishery Investigations office in
On February 9th a new interim North Pacific Fur Seal Convention is
concluded by Canada, Japan, the USSR, and the United States similar to
the 1911 Convention. Japan had withdrawn from the 1911 convention in
The Bureau's new Fisheries Loan Program begins operation late in the
year, initially with assistance from the Small Business
BCF exploratory longline fishing in the North Atlantic reveals several
species of tunas in an area north of their previously known winter
ranges and within 15 hours sailing time of Massachusetts Nantucket
By the end of the year, a large number of Gulf of Mexico shrimpers have
converted from single-trawl to the more efficient two-trawl rigs.
A new protocol to the U.S.-Canada Sockeye Salmon Convention of 1930 be-
comes effective in July, extending the same type of protection to the
pink salmon fisheries of the Fraser River system as that provided the
Fraser's sockeye salmon runs.
Bureau exploratory fishing operations off Alaska locate new Pacific
ocean perch and shrimp resources.
For the first time, shrimp discovered off Washington in earlier BCF
research cruises by the John N.
Cobb are fished commercially and
BCF assumes the administration of the Columbia River Fishery
Development Program which had begun in 1948. Construction begins on
three new salmonid hatcheries and two major fishways. Program
hatcheries release 65 million salmon and steelhead trout.
Exploratory research in the central, eastern, and northern Pacific
reveals that Japanese and American fishermen are exploiting the same
stocks of albacore.
Successful redfish tagging at Eastport, Maine, provides the first
direct evidence that the growth rate of this species is extremely
slow, less than one-sixth inch in 9 months.
BCF research shows that the yield of sea scallops in the North Atlantic
can be materially increased by regulating the sizes of the rings used
in the scallop dredges.
New markets are found for Lake Erie rough-fish, as the pet-food and
mink food industries take nearly the entire catch of freshwater
Bureau research conclusively shows that improved processing and
packaging techniques can extend the storage life of frozen fishery
products by many months. Bureau technologists publish a conprehensive
five-part manual on handling, processing, freezing, storing, and
distributing fresh-frozen and precooked and frozen fishery products,
the only authoritative reference on all phases of the frozen fishery
Bureau home economists develop thorough series of fish and shellfish recipes
for use by the Food Service Div of the Army and Air Force and by the
Quartermaster Food and Container Institute of the Armed Forces
With fishing industry help, the Bureau organizes a safety program to
reduce the number of accidents on fishing vessels.
The Bureau begins participation in the international Geophysical Year
(IGY) operations as its Pacific Oceanic Fishery Investigations unit
occupies an oceanographic station off Oahu, Hawaii.
The Bureau's Honolulu
Biological laboratory initiates a program to study
tuna behavior in their natural environment.
Construction at the Woods Hole station begins with demolition
of old buildings.
A new laboratory is established in
Pascagoula, Miss., for regional
fisheries utilization research.
A July article in the Bureau's Commercial Fisheries Review by Charles
Butler, entitled "Nutritional value of fish in reference to
atherosclerosis and current dietary research," notes the early
interest in heart disease and the eating of fatty foods, and discusses
the implications of current knowledge of atherosclerosis as applied to
the marketing of fish. An S-K study is initiated on the relationship of
fish oils to circulatory diseases.
Congress passes the Alaska Statehood Act, and the new state will
eventually be responsible for its fish and wildlife resources.
Japan agrees, under terms of the North Pacific Fisheries Convention, to
abstain from salmon fishing on the high seas of the North Pacific
east of long. 175 deg. W while research continues to determine the
proper line to divide Asian and North American salmon stocks
The first United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea convenes in
Geneva during February-May, with 86 nations participating. The U.S.
delegation uses background documents on U.S. and world fisheries
during the deliberations. For the first time, broad agreement is
reached on a system of rules to guide nations toward preserving marine
species. A fishery attache post is established in Tokyo in
conjunction with the State Department Foreign Service Program.
Research shows that red salmon of the North American type appears to
predominate in the North Pacific as far west as long. 175 deg. E.
The Bureau's Biological Laboratory at Stanford, Calif., obtains indices
of air circulation changes over the North Pacific for a 32-year
period (1926-57) and studies their effects on sea temperatures, up-
wellinq, and fish populations.
A new fleet headquarters opens at Kewalo Basin for the 10-year-old
Honolulu Biological Laboratory.
Research begins in Honolulu on the use of paper chromatography to
identify adult tunas and tuna larvae. Bureau scientists continue
their IGY participation by studying the Pacific Equatorial Undercur-
rent (Cromwell Current), a newly discovered easterly flow beneath the
Equator of about 30,000,000 m^3/second.
The Bureau's Galveston Biological
Laboratory successfully tests a new
shrimp-marking technique using vital stains which remain with the
shrimp even as they molt. Research shows that Everglades bays are an
important nursery area for the Tortugas pink shrimp and that brown and
white shrimp peak in abundance at different seasons of the year.
Beaufort Biological Laboratory scientists develop a method for
estimating the relative abundance of each new year class of menhaden
prior to its entry into the commercial fishery, allowing accurate catch
predictions for each year class.
Oxford MD Lab
The Bureau of Commercial Fisheries moves its laboratory in
Annapolis to a site in Oxford, Maryland to be in a better site
to investigate MSX disease, which has wiped out commercial oyster
concentrations in Chesapeake Bay.
A Fisheries Technology Lab is opened in Ann Arbor.
Woods Hole Biological Laboratory scientists develop a method to
determine the age of scallops using marks on the shell and ligament as
A fluorinated nitrophenol chemical, discovered the previous year, is
used to treat eight streams entering the Great Lakes. Developing
lamprey larvae are killed, bringing hope for an effective control of
this fish predator.
A prototype automatic deicing and weighing machine is developed and
tested by Bureau technologists to increase efficiency of unloading
fish at the dock.
Bureau scientists show that introducinq fish oils into the diet
markedly reduces high serum-cholesterol levels; test animals also
show more rapid growth rates than control animals. The researchers also
develop an accurate method for measuring the nutritive value of fish
meals through controlled-diet feeding studies.
A tilapia rearing program in
Honolulu to provide baitfish for tuna
vessels produces over 1,000,000 tilapia fry.
A new Biological Laboratory is set up in Washington, D.C., to study the
mechanisms by which the elements of the marine environment affect
commercially important fishes and invertebrates.
Two new fishways are completed on Columbia River tributaries for a
total of 20 major fishways constructed since the Columbia River Fishery
Development Program began in 1948.
La Jolla Biological Laboratory researchers design a high-speed
plankton sampling device to study the continuous distribution of
plankton in the environment of the sardine. And, using erythrocyte
antigens as genetic indicators to study subpopulations, they find three
sardine blood systems, designated A, B, and C.
An underwater viewing chamber is installed in the stern of the BCF
vessel Charles H. Gilbert to facilitate tuna behavior studies.
Bureau insecticide reports show DDT is toxic to adult white shrimp at
concentrations of 15 ppb; endrin and lindane are toxic to postlarval
shrimp at 0.5 and 2.0 ppb, respectively; and endrin is also highly
toxic to fish, killing the sailfin molly at 2.5 ppb.
Exploratory fishing operations off North Carolina find an extensive
commerical hard-clam bed and sizeable concentrations of calico
A new test method to determine quality is developed at the Colleoe Md.,
Technology Laboratory and is put to use in the Bureau's inspection and
Bureau technologists at the Gloucester Laboratory demonstrate the
practicality of using refrigerated sea water (RSW) to store whiting
prior to processing.
On October 13th the "Don McNeil Breakfast Club Show" includes a fish
for health message to 30 million listeners, announcing a major
nutritional breakthrough resulting from Bureau- sponsored research
which indicated the value of fishery products in lowering blood
"Outdoor Fish Cookery," a Bureau- financed motion picture, is honored
with a showing at the 1959 American Film Festival.
A new Biological Laboratory is established at San Diego, Calif., to
investigate tuna ecology and tuna fishing operations in the eastern
Pacific and to apply specific oceanographic and biological findings
to problems of the west coast tuna industry.
The South Atlantic fisheries exploration and gear research program
The Bureau is called upon to intensify fishing treaty enforcement and
foreign fishing surveillance in international waters, especially off
the Alaska coast where Japan and Russia have concentrated their
greatest fishing efforts.
Federal management of Alaska's commercial fisheries ends on December
31st as the new state's agency assumes that responsibility.