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Considerable improvement can be anticipated in vessels, particularly in motive power, range and handling qualities, Auxiliary equipment, however, offers possibilities for startling improvements in the fishing effort. Listening and other detecting devices, for instance, may be adapted to locate schools of fish.
Although gear and vessel developments may be uncertain, a trend toward the performance on shipboard of certain processing functions, now carried out on shore, seems inevitable. It may follow the pattern of the large factory ships used in some of our other fisheries, On the Pacific Coast, there are floating salmon canneries and crab canneries, and other ressels equipped as reduction plants. Many vessels carry refrigeration equipment to assist in pre serving their fares, and California tuna clippers have long frozen their catches taken off Latin America.
In many of the world's fisheries, fully equipped vessels prepare finished fishery products at sea. Foreign vessels equipped to freeze their catches already have fished the Western North Atlantic. About 10 years ago, a large French trawler visited New England. It had installed freezing and refrigerating equipment, as did a large Italian trawler which Pished the Grand Banks in 1940.
Perhaps the latest development of this nature is the 67-foot Pacific Coast fishing craft Soupfin which is equipped with freezing and refrigeration equipment. It made several otter trawling trips during 1943, during which a portion of the catch was filleted and frozen while at sea. If filleting, freezing, and storing the catch can be successfully accomplished on this small vessel, surely it indicates that similar ventures, possibly on a much larger scale, are certain to be carried out in the Western North Atlantic in the early part of the post-war period.
The market for fresh and frozen fishery products of good quality is relatively untouched insofar as our inland areas are concerned. To supply this demand, our veggels must again return to the more remote banks and their more prolific resources, This time, however, the preservative will not be salt. It is more apt to be faster vessels, improved gear and, most important--freezing and refrigerating equipment that will eliminate the disadvantages of distance and time, bringing the farthest of the northern banks once more to New England's doorstep.
THE MARKETING OF RAJAFISH IN NEW ENGLAND
By Henry M. Boarse*
Rajafish is a trade name used for at least four species of the common akato family (Rajidae) marketed in the North Atlantic region at the present time. Species of rays are uncommon in the North Atlantic; only the various species of skates included under the name "rajarish" being marketed. At the present time, with the fishery for this family of fishes still in its infancy, two species dominate the catches: Raja stabuliforis and Raja diaphanes, The chief objection to the three or four other species common in the North Atlantic is their small sizo and low yield in edible portions,
According to dealers who have handled them in the past, the most desirable market species is the barndoor skate, Raja stabuliforis. When modern packaging methods are used, however, the writer believes the big skate, Raja diaphanes, and the briar skate, Raja oglantoria, are •qually as good and the flesh has a more desirable color. The barndoor akate, the largest species, will reach 50 pounds or more in weight, although the average is much less, Tho smaller species will attain 14 pounds or more with the average below ten pounds,
Rajafish are taken the year around, according to notes compiled by Service biologists, During the summer months, they appear to be more common in shoalor, inshore waters, with the roverse true during the winter when large quantities are available in depths of 50-100 fathoms,
As a general rule, rajafish are not landed in the round, All are dressed at sea, the portion saved consisting of either the two pectoral fins or "wings" joined by a cartilaginous ridge or cut into separate pieces, as illustrated. Because the bony ridge is waste and cutting off. the fins separately is less work, handling as separate pieces appears to be the more desirable method. (See page 5 for sketches, )
Rajafish may be sold to the trade familiar with the product in the form it is landed, This type of retail trade consists chiefly of buyers of English or Italian origin, As a result of publicity and development by the Service in cooperation with various state and private organizations, processors began to section or dross the fins in a manner similar to that shown in the second sketch. When handled in this way, the product can be packaged neatly and marketed readily. This method also makes quick freezing feasible. After a fin has been cut into portions, the skin may be removed from the dark or upper side, from both sides, or from neither side, If the skin is left on, parboiling is generally necessary to remove it, Methods of processing the rajafi sh for marke ting are still in the developmental stage, but present indications are that a dressed and skinned produet will be the final result,
REHABILITATION OF MAINE ALEWDE RUNS PLANNED
Production of alewives in Maine may be more than doubled as a result of recommendations for the improvement of this fishery submitted to the State by the U, 8, Fish and Wildlife Service on the basis of a survey of Maine streama last season, Present ea tehes of the alewife, a fish closely related to the shad and sea hepping, are only about two million pounds a year in Maine, empared with four million in the 1890's, In New England, in general the decline has been even meater-efren 12 million pounds te 3. Although alewives were formerly uged chiefly for salting and smoking, there la now a geed market for the canned preduet, The pack increased from 24,000 eases in 1940 te 99,000 in 1942 and was well over 100,000 last year, Further increases will depend largely upon restoration of the ming of fish wher= over possible,
At the request of Commissioner Arthur Greenleaf of the Maine Sea and Shore Fisheries Department, Dr, George A. Rounsefell and Louis D, Stringer, biologists of the fish and Wild11fe Service, supervised a survey of 115 Maine streama==many of which once had lange mine to discover where it may be possible to restore condition, muitable for alewives,
The chief causes of the decline, the survey revealed, are impassable dama, poorly designed and maintained fishways for passage over dame, and excessive fighing. Alewives miAquatic Biologist, Division of Mahexy Blology, Cambridge, Manse,
RAJATISH (Raja diaphanes
WHOLE FISH AS
DRESSED AT SEA
cut along straight lines
Usual method until recently .
out along curved linos
Called "saddle" when joined here
out into long strips for packaging. Long strips may be cut in ball
grate into coastal streams from the ocean each year to spawn--usually in ponds or small lakes--and free access to the spawning grounds is essential. Alewife catches in Maine can be restored to the 4,000,000 level, the Fish and Wildlife Service believes, by the adoption of a State program including the following: (1) measures to allow alewives to reach their spawning grounds; (2) proper management of the fishery to insure a sufficient number of spawners; (3) continuation of the stocking program carried out jointly last season by the State and Federal Governments.
The Pemaquid, Sheepscot, Saint George, East Machias, and Medomic Rivers are included in a list of 17 streams in which it is recommended that the restoration program should be concentrated. Nine of these streams were stocked with alewives in 1943 and three others will require stocking to get runs established. Construction of 18 fishways and repair or redesigning of three others are recommended. Three of the streams need work to clear away oba structions such as abandoned dams and rock slides.
One of the chief causes of over-fishing, the investigators report, is the long established custom of leasing alewife streams to a company or private individual, usually for only one season. The successful bidder has no interest in future runs, and excessive fishing results. The towns themselves should do the fishing, with proper regard to the brood stock, and then sell the fish, it is recommended. The progeny of the alewives stocked in 1943 will not return as spawners until 1947. The stocking program must be continued for four years in order to build up or establish runs in each year of the alewife's four-year cycle. A total of some 7,500 alewives were planted in 13 streams during the 1943 runs and a subsequent check showed that spawning had been successful.
Maine now takes about two-thirds of New England's catch of alewives, New Hampshire now has no runs of commercial importance and in Rhode Island the catch has declined from nearly 3,000,000 pounds to 20,000. Connecticut takes only about 40,000 pounds, and in Massachusetts the catch has fallen from about 5,000,000. pounds in 1905 to less than a million. The causes of the decline in these States are the same as in Maine, but because of the greater industrialization the chances of restoration are considered less favorable.
SHARK FISHERIES HAVE ACTIVE YEAR IN 1943
Concluding the busiest year on record, the shark fishery supplied three-fourths of the Vitamin A used in the United States in 1943 and provided choice steaks and fillets that were eaten by thousands of Americans who had never before thought of a shark as food, the Office of the Coordinator of Fisheries reported January 7. Only recently neglected as worthless, sharks have now become one of the most important products of the U. S. fisheries, largely because of their value as a source of Vitamin A, but in recent months increasingly prized as a food. One species--the soupfin shark--sold late in 1943 for a higher average price in the Seattle wholesale market than any other fish except Chinook salmon.
With the demand greater than fishermen can supply, more than a million and a half pounds of dressed soupfin shark were landed in Seattle during 1943-more than eight times as much as the preceding year, Chicago, important inland market for shark from both coasts, received 100,000 pounds. New York and other eastern cities have received shark meat from the Atlantic Coast, where Florida is the chief producing center. The catch of sharks usually amounts to about 15,000,000 pounds annually--mostly taken on the Pacific Coast-but in the past it has been common practice to throw away the carcasses at sea after removing the valuable livers. Use of the shark meat--which tastes surprisingly like haddock--began on a large scale only within the past year. In California, however, some use of sharks as food has been made for many years.
Although sharks are closely related to fish, scientists do not class them as true fish because their skeleton consists of cartilage instead of bone. There are more than 70 known species of sharks in North American waters, but only about a dozen are caught in important quantities.
Shark livers now make up more than 50 percent of the quantity of fish livers obtained for processing by the vitamin industry. However, because of the extremely high potency of the liver oils from certain species, sharks furnish about 75 percent of the Vitamin A produced in the United States. Most important commercial source of Vitamin A is the soupfin shark, which has a very large liver. Soupfin liver oil has a higher Vitamin A potency than any other oil available in large quantities to U. S. fishermen, at certain seasons of the year running as high as 200,000 units per gram. Livers of grayfish (dogfish), a small kind of shark, yield a less potent oil-5,000 to 30,000 units per gram--and most other sharks average about 5,000. Cod liver oil, long the principal source of Vitamin A, yields about 3,000 units,
Domestic production of vitamin oils has increased greatly during the past two or three years because of the cutting off of European imports--chiefly from Norway--and the accelerated demand for Vitamin A for Government purchase and by civilian consumers.
DUTIES OF WFA AGENCIES REDEFINED AND PRICE OFFICE SET UP
To speed up War Food Administration operations, through more clearly defining administrative responsibilities and procedures, and eliminating duplication, Administrator Marvin Jones announced on January 22, changes in designations of some organizations within the Administration and assignments of responsibilities in several fields of operation. No fundamental change in organization is involved, the Administrator said. The Administrator's memorandum stating designations and responsibilities of agencies is excerpted as follows:
1. Hereafter the Food Production Administration and the Food Distribution Administration shall be known as the Office of Production and the Office of Distribution, respectively. The heads of these agencies shall continue to have the titles of Director of Food Production and Director of Food Distribution, respectively.
2. The Agricultural Adjustment Agency, the Farm Security Administration, and the Soil Conservation Service hereafter shall function as independent agencies within the War Food Administration, and the heads of these three agencies shall report directly to the Administrator, or the Assistant Administrators as the case may be.
3. The Office of Distribution shall be responsible for all procurement, stockpiling, storage, and distribution of food by the War Food Administration, including the distribution of food acquired by virtue of the operations of the several loan programs of the Administration, except that
(a) The Commodity Credit Corporation shall continue to procure and import food from the Dominion of Canada and sugar from the Caribbean area.
(b) The Commodity Credit Corporation shall continue to be responsible, until May 1, 1944, for such procurement and distribution programs as it is now administering, provided that on and after May 1, 1944, all such programs shall be administered by the Office of Distribution.
(c) The Commodity Credit Corporation shall make such distribution of food acquired by virtue of its loan programs or imported by virtue of its operations under subparagraph (a) hereof as may be requested by the office of Distribution and approved by the Administrator.
(d) The Office of Production, acting through such agency in the field as may be designated by the Administrator, shall be responsible for the distribution of all food allocated for use as feed and other production facilities.
4. The Office of Distribution shall be responsible for the preparation of directives for the foreign procurement of food.
5. There is hereby established within the Administration the Office of Price. The Office of Price shall have supervision over all functions of the Administration relating to approval of maximum prices to be fixed for agricultural commodities or products, and relating to price support programs in connection with particular commodities. The Director of Price will prepare or review recommendations covering commodities to be supported and the levels and methods of support. The services of all agencies and personnel of the Administration shall be available to the Director of Price in carrying out this work. All dockets and formal correspondence between the Office of Price Administration or the Office of Economic Stabilization