BOTH the fishermen and the government of the United States have been disturbed by fishery troubles for a decade. The subject has attracted surprisingly little public attention,1 but a rather serious problem had arisen in inter-American relations, and it remained unsolved.
The problem centers on tuna fish -- yellowfin and skipjack -- and the small fish used as tuna bait, but whale and other species are involved to some extent. The International Law Commission of the United Nations has been investigating the subject since 1951 and the General Assembly of that organization gave it serious consideration in 1956-1957. The problem was before the Organization of the American States on at least three occasions; and the State Department of the United States has been engaged in fishery negotiations with most of the eleven Pacific-Coast countries of Latin America since 1949 without satisfactory results.
The tuna industry of the United States, which has grown rapidly since 1946, is owned mainly by residents of California, Oregon, and Washington. Their investment is reported to aggregate some $125 million, including the capital in processing and canning as well as in fishing. The fishermen of these three states have been selling their annual catch of tuna for approximately $50 million in recent years. The annual wholesale value of the processed and canned tuna is reckoned at some $113 million. Taxes paid by the industry and the consumers of its products are said to exceed $52 million per annum.
Numerous schools of yellowfin and skipjack tuna inhabit the eastern Pacific Ocean from the Southern boundary of California