Soviet Union Table of Contents
Fish has always been a prominent part of the Soviet diet. Until the mid-1950s, the bulk of the Soviet catch came from inland lakes, rivers, and coastal waters. Thereafter, the Soviet Union launched an ambitious program to develop the world's largest oceangoing fishing fleet, which consisted of 4,222 ships in 1986. The Soviet Union became the world's second leading fish producer, trailing Japan by a small margin throughout the 1970s and 1980s. In 1986 Soviet production amounted to 11.4 million tons, most of which was caught in marine fisheries.
The Atlantic Ocean supplied 49.2 percent of the total catch in 1980, while the Pacific Ocean yielded 41.3 percent. The Caspian, Black, Azov, and Aral seas, suffering from lowered water levels, increased salinity, and pollution, became relatively less important fisheries in the 1970s and 1980s. Whereas Murmansk had been the one large fishing port before the expansion of the oceangoing fleet, by 1980 there were twenty-three such ports, the largest of which were Vladivostok, Nakhodka, Kaliningrad, Archangel, Klaipeda, Riga, Tallin, Sevastopol', and Kerch'. In 1982 more than 96 percent of the frozen fish, 45 percent of the canned fish, 60 percent of the fish preserve, and 94 percent of the fish meal delivered to market was processed at sea by large, modern factory ships.
Because of the worldwide trend of claiming 200-mile territorial waters, total fish production fell after 1977. The open Pacific was viewed as a promising fishery to offset reduced production in coastal waters, which had been yielding up to 60 percent of the Soviet catch. Inland fisheries also began to receive more attention, and fish farming was promoted as ponds were established close to urban centers. Between 1961 and 1980, the production of fresh fish by such enterprises increased by over 8.8 times, reaching 158,300 tons. The Eleventh Five-Year Plan called for pond fish production to be tripled.
Data as of May 1989