Fisheries Historical Highlights: 1920s

1870 1880 1890 1900 1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000

offloading halibut: historical photo boston fish pier


Jurisdiction over all land fur-bearing animals, except those of Alaska and the Pribilof Islands, is transferred from the Bureau of Fisheries (Commerce Department) to the Agriculture Department.

Mussels reared in lowa are successfully planted along the Potomac River at Harpers Ferry, W.V.

Fire destroys the dining hall, kitchen, and laundry room of the Woods Hole Laboratory

With cooperation of the Naval Aviation Service and Chesapeake Bay fishermen, the Bureau inaugurates use of aeroplanes to locate menhaden.


The Albatross is decommissioned and retired from service on October 29th, but the scientific research into as well as the naming and cataloging of the many hundreds of thousands of specimens it has collected will continue for decades.

For the first time, Bureau of Fisheries scientists begin research to determine fat contents of fish oils at its Washington D.C., laboratory. Such research would continue during 1926-30 at a Reedville Va. laboratory on menhaden oil manufacture. Later Bureau research would target the vitamin content of fish oils and other healthful and nutritional attributes of fish oils.

Pacific salmon studies by Willis H. Rich, in cooperation with the Oregon Fish Commission, begin on the Columbia River. Meanwhile, salmon studies by Charles Gilbert begin in Bristol Bay and on Karluk River and Karluk Lake in Alaska.


Willis H. Rich former student of David Starr Jordan, becomes chief of the Bureau's Division of Scientific Inquiry. He later heads the Pacific Fishery Investigations at the Bureau's Stanford station and is Director of the Montlake Laboratory in Seattle.

Over 180 million fish are rescued in the Mississippi Valley and relocated from overflow ponds and lakes. The practice is abandoned in 1939 owing to improved flood control measures.


Herbert F. Prytherch makes his first report on his work with artificial propagation of oysters. He works in facilities provided by the Connecticut Oyster Farms Company of Milford, CT. Increased interest in molluscan culture for stock enhancement and direct sale eventually leads to establishment of a full-scale research facility at Milford, which is still a laboratory of the NEFSC, concentrating on pollution effects on marine life and molluscan and finfish aquaculture.


Congress passes the White Act in an effort to deal with the use of fish traps in the Alaska salmon fishery. It sets a 50% escapement level for streams where fish could be counted or reliably estimated giving the Commerce Secretary authority to limit catches and set seasons, but it does not allow the limitation of the amount of gear in the fishery.

Henny O'Malley, Bureau Comissioner and a member of the Halibut Commission, sends Harlan Holmes to Seattle to find working space for the Bureau. A small staff of Bureau employees work at the University of Washington's Fisheries Hall Number 4 until construction of the Montlake Laboratory is completed in 1931.

N.A. Cobb  photo

N.A. Cobb begins to spend his summers working at Woods Hole fisheries lab. Cobb was a world-known nematode specialist whose contributions included many discoveries regarding these animals, as well as in the taxonomy of nematodes. Cobb's outstanding contributions included using these animals to study biological problems such as heredity, phylogeny, adaptation, and parasitism.


P.S. Galtsoff photo

P.S. Galtsoff begins lifelong work on the American oyster which culminates in the extensive classic "The American Oyster," published by the service in 1952.


The Bureau's steamer Fish Hawk is relinquished. Shortly after, the Bureau obtains the ocean tug Patuxent from the Navy. It is renamed the Albatross II and outfitted for research use.


Elmer Higgins, former student of David Starr Jordan, becomes chief of the bureau's Division of Scientific Inquiry.


The Bureau begins studying problems and methods of fish passage at various water diversion projects along the Pacific coast.


Columbus Iselin  O.E. Sette and others on board atlantis

O.E. Sette becomes director of the Fisheries lab and brings his pioneering work tagging and reporting on the schooling of mackerel.

New investigations begin on the sockeye salmon in Bristol Bay under Alan Taft and on the Copper River under Seton Thompson. Investigations on the pink salmon of southeastern Alaska begin under Fred Davidson.

Enforcement of Pacific salmon regulations is emphasized, and the Bureau employs 228 agents using 24 vessels and the Bureau's first airplane.

Planting of oak brush in Georgia's lower Duplin River proves successful for collecting oyster spat.

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