The economic importance of fish is greater today than ever before and is steadily growing. Statisticians predict that much of the vital protein food necessary to nourish our ever-increasing human population – of which perhaps half is underfed even today – will come from marine (salt water) fisheries. At present, approximately twenty-five million tons of fish are procured from the sea each year. Investigations of ways and means to increase this yield are now being vigorously pursued in many parts of the world. In the United States, the total estimated catch of salt and freshwater fish for one recent year was more than 3,850,000,000 pounds, valued at well over $200,000,000.
Sportsfishing has become enormously popular of late, especially in the United States. More than sixteen million fishing licenses were issued, providing a revenue of more than 600 million dollars. Trade experts estimate that sportsfishing provides an income of about 350 million dollars each year to tackle manufacturers, boat captains, bait dealers, and others engaged in the business end of “fishing for fun.”
A third industry connected with fish has recently become quite important – that concerned with the keeping of fishes as pets. One estimate places the number of people who maintain captive fishes in America at ten million. A large fish-importing trade has been built up, as well as the domestic breeding and rearing of tremendous numbers of small tropical freshwater fishes, goldfish, and aquatic plants. Along with this, there has developed an extensive tank-and-appliance manufacturing business. Little fish are now big business; approximately 15o different species of “tropicals” and forty kinds of aquatic plants are regularly available on the market today.