Fisheries Historical Highlights: 1970s

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soviet factory ship


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is formed. The Bureau of Commercial Fisheries and the saltwater labs of the BSFW become its National Marine Fisheries Service. In subsequent reorgnization actions, the Ann Arbor Biological Station is moved to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. There is a prposal to close both the Milford and Ann Arbor Technology Stations. The Gloucester Lab is moved under the Division of Fishery Products Technology, Office of Management Services, along with the nation's other fisheries technology labs.

Bruce L. Freeman and Lionel A. Walford at the Sandy Hook lab begin collecting information that will eventually become an eight- section atlas describing sport fish distribution, abundance, life history, and industry shoreside facilities from the Gulf of Maine to the Florida Keys. The atlases are published between 1974 and 1976 under the title "Angler's Guide to the United States Atlantic Coast."

Bureau scientists in La Jolla, Calif., successfully spawn the northern anchovy in the laboratory, the first time any important commercial pelagic fish has been induced to spawn under artificial conditions.


The National Systematics Lab  Washington DC

The Office of Resource Research is formed. The National Systematics Lab and the Atlantic Environmental Group are moved into that office.

The Boothbay Harbor Lab is closed and its functions moved to the Woods Hole Lab.

The Ann Arbor Fisheries Technology Lab is closed.

Robert White, first NOAA Administrator, establishes four major offshore fisheries research centers throughout the Nation: the Northwest and Alaska Fisheries Center (NWAFC), Southwest Fisheries Center (SWFC), Northeast Fisheries Center (NEFC), and Southeast Fisheries Center (SEFC). They report to NMFS headquarters. Three coastal fisheries research centers, which report to Regional Directors, are also established: Gulf Coast Fisheries Center (GCFC), Atlantic Estuarine Fisheries Center (AEFC), and Middle Atlantic Coast Fisheries Center (MACFC). The basic five-regional office structure is retained.

The Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee (MAFAC) is established by the Secretary of Commerce to advise on marine fisheries resource issues.

Research on fish protein concentrate production culminates in construction of an experimental plant (which began operation in March) and issuance of U.S. Patent 3,598,606 for a novel washing pro- cedure that removes the bulk of the lipids.

Techniques to reduce mortality of porpoises caught accidentally in tuna fishing operations are evaluated by the SWFC.

Techniques are developed at the SWFC for rapid countinq and aerial mea- surement of fish schools by sonar.

NWAFC scientists successfully rear coho salmon in floating saltwater pens - a technique that shows great promise as a commercial salmon production venture.

Inexpensive and lightweight deepwater fish traps are developed at the NWAFC, found to be effective, and are adopted commercially.

NMFS Auke Bay Laboratory scientists survey prior to and after detonation of nuclear device at Alaska's Amchitka Island; no significant damage to marine fauna or environment is found.

An international tagging program is reviewed by the NEFC Narragansett Laboratory which describes blue shark migration routes.

MACFC scientists find fin rot disease in fish to be caused by several pathogenic bacteria. Incidence of the disease appears to be related to environmental pollution.

Parasitic amoebae and bacteria from several fish and shellfish are identified and characterized by MACFC scientists.

SEFC scientists complete an atlas on the distribution of tunas and billfishes in the Atlantic Ocean.

SEFC scientists successfully test a low light level image intensifier system to locate fish schools at night by detecting the bioluminescent halo that surrounds them.

GCFC scientists determine optimum culturing techniques for larval shrimp and for diatoms used as shrimp food.

GCFC scientists document the rate that fish colonize newly constructed canals and assess the freshwater requirements of marine fishery resources in coastal Louisiana and south Florida.

AEFC scientists prove that the Atlantic menhaden resource is composed of one stock of migrating fish. Gulf research indicates that menhaden populations east and west of the Mississippi River may constitute separate stocks.

AEFC scientists develop mathematical models that indicate that a large proportion of total marine productivity is required to support exploited fish populations.

The National Fisheries Engineering Laboratory is located at the National Space Technology Laboratories (Miss.) to launch a remote sensing program and to modify satellite technology to support fisheries research. It is renamed the Bay St. Louis Laboratory.

U.S. commercial whaling ends as of December 31st.


NMFS Director Philip Roedel announces that the agency, under NOAA, has a much broader charter than its predecessor agencies and is now resource-oriented rather than user-oriented.

The Marine Mammal Protection Act is passed and establishes a moratorium on taking marine mammals in U.S. waters and by U.S. citizens on the high seas.

The Coastal Zone Management Act is passed to provide guidance, expertise and funding to help states protect and manage U.S. coastal areas.

Another first, the spawning of haddock in captivity at the NEFC Narragansett Laboratory, is announced.

A program for reef fishery descriptions and analyses for southeastern U.S. water begins.

The Bay St. Louis, Miss. Laboratory installs the first computer-based scientific data-logging system aboard the Albatross

The GCFC is dedicated at Panama City Fla., to study the biology and ecology of coastal marine fishes, with emphasis on Sport species.

The Central Western and South Pacific Fisheries Development Act is passed to establish a program for the development of tuna and other fishery resources of those Pacific regions.

The Fisheries Loan Program receives more than $2.2 million this year. Since 1956, $31.3 million has been loaned to fishing vessel owners.


The Endangered Species Act is passed to protect species and populations whose numbers are small or declining; NMFS is responsible for marine species under the law.


The Atlantic Environmental Group is moved to the NEFC Narragansett Laboratory. The group analyzes the marine environment of western North Atlantic and its influence on fishery resources.

Publication of large volumes on ocean variability within the U.S. Fishery Conservation Zone begin. Staff at the Narragansett Laboratory are in the forefront of mapping and tracking physical and chemical processes in relation to fish distribution, abundance, and stock composition.

The NMFS-wide Marine Resources Monitoring, Assessment, and Prediction (MARMAP) Program is established, based largely on the advice of NEFSC staff members Dr. Ken Sherman and Dr. Robert Edwards. The project forms the basis for uniform data collection necessary for fisheries management, and critical to the ecosystems approaches now being developed by fishery management councils. Data collected over time includes biological surveys of fish, fish eggs and larvae, predators, prey, water circulation, sea temperatures, water column structure, biological production, and pollution.

The NMFS Atlantic Environmental Group is moved from Washington, D.C., to the NEFC Narragansett Laboratory.

The NMFS Gloucester Laboratory initiates a landmark program on quality assurance of fresh fish fillets, including a U.S. Department of Commerce Inspection Program, which provides for quality assurance tests at dockside, at the processing plant, and at retail outlets.

Remote sensing applications to fisheries research in southeastern U. S. waters are stimulated when SEFC scientists find significant relationships between water color and Gulf menhaden distribution pat- terns.

The Auke Bay Laboratory (ABL) in Alaska becomes a part of the NWAFC.

A mandatory Marine Mammal Observer Program is implemented in the U.S. purseseine fishery for yellowfin tuna in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

In November, 30,000 young silver salmon reared at the NMFS Tiburon Laboratory are released. Many will return in 1976 to San Francisco Bay, which never before had silver salmon


The Mid-Atlantic Center is incorporated into the Northeast Fisheries Center.

The National Laboratories and Technology Labs are incorporated into the Centers, with the National Systematics Lab the AEG, and the Gloucester Tech Lab organized into the NEFC.

Helgoland undersea habitat

The Helgoland undersea habitat project was conducted in the Gulf of Maine to study spawning behavior of sea herring. The equipment belonged to Germany, the project logistics were conducted by Poland, and scientists on the study hailed from five countries, including the U.S.

Annual sea scallop surveys begin at the NEFSC, providing a continuous time series of species information comparable to that supplied by the finfish survey sampling program since 1963.

The NMFS Tiburon Laboratory near San Francisco becomes another element of the SWFC.

Some 195 cases are investigated relating to the Marine Mammal Protection Act as are 381 cases involving endangered species and related products including seizures of quantities of sperm whale oil and teeth, raw baleen and scrimshaw.


The Magnuson Fisheries Conservation and Management Act is signed into law. The NMFS mission becomes the study of commercially fished species and the environmental factors affecting their numbers and health.

The Polish Plankton Sorting and Identification Center in Szczecin, Poland opens for business. The facilities and staff were established and trained in a multinational effort in order to process samples taken in the massive ongoing research efforts during the ICNAF era. Scientists from the NEFSC were instrumental in training staff to identify and classify zooplankton and in helping establish laboratory procedures. The Sorting Center proved so successful that it is still operating today.

The Pacific Environmental Group, now the Pacific Fisheries Environmental Group (PFEG) in Monterey, Calif., becomes another element of the SWFC.

The NMFS Southeast Fisheries Center is reorganized to include the research that had been done under four smaller laboratories. Headquarters are in Miami, Fla., and additional research facilities are in Beaufort, N.C.; Charleston, S.C.; Miami and Panama City, Fla.; Bay St. Louis and Pascaooula, Miss.: and Galveston, Tex.

On October 1st, The Northwest Fisheries Center in Seattle officially becomes the Northwest and Alaska Fisheries Center (NWAFC).

Further NMFS consolidation on the east coast incorporates the Woods Hole, Sandy Hook, and Narragansett Laboratories with four regional laboratories into the Northeast Fisheries Center.

The Pacific Utilization Research Center is brought into the NWAFC and renamed the Utilization Research (UR) Division.

NMFS Pascagoula Laboratory Harvesting Systems Division develops the first defined efficiency value (Q) for a sampling trawl.

NMFS agents investigate and assist with a stranding where 28 false killer whales are successfully unbeached and returned to sea at Dry Tortugas, Fla. All but one survive.


US map A long-term environmental monitoring program was established by the NEFSC in its Ocean Pulse and Northeast Monitoring Programs. This project was later expanded to a nationwide project, NOAA's Status and Trends Program in 1984-85.

During the extremely cold winter of 1977-78, SEFC scientists first discover the apparent hibernation of sea turtles, finding loggerhead sea turtles overwintering and sheltered in the mud of the Port Canaveral, Fla., ship channel.


Dr. Bruce Collette and others publish a paper definitively showing that Spanish mackerel prevalent in the Gulf of Mexico and along the U.S. East Coast were a species distinct from Spanish mackerels known in Brazil. These results convinced U.S. fishery managers not to base decisions on the only available biological data, which was from the Brazilian fishery, preventing a sure failure since the Brazilian fish were larger, and had very different maturity characteristics.

The College Park Technological Laboratory is moved from Maryland to Charleston, S.C., and renamed the Charleston Laboratory.

The SEFC begins an extensive gear research and development program to reduce the incidental capture and mortality of sea turtles in shrimp trawls, leading to the development of various trawling efficiency devices (TED's).

NMFS conducts tests to develop excluder panels that keep turtles from being caught in shrimp nets while permitting shrimp harvest.

Loggerhead and green sea turtles are listed as threatened for all populations worldwide.

On April 1st, four NMFS biologists set up camp in snow caves at Cape Lisburne, Alaska, to study and count endangered bowhead whales during their spring migration.

The Bay St. Louis Laboratory designs an at-sea porpoise impoundment system for marine mammal research in the Gulf of Mexico.

The NMFS Pascagoula Laboratory and the Engineering Laboratory at Bay St. Louis, Miss., are merged to form the Mississippi Laboratories.


In February the NWAFC Marine Mammal Division is designated as the National Marine Mammal Laboratory.

The Mississippi Laboratories designs the prototype satellite-linked porpoise tracking tag which successfully charts the position of porpoises off Hawaii.

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