A fishing village in Esmeraldas Province
Courtesy Inter-American Foundation (Miguel Sayago)
The Pacific waters along the coast and as far west as the
Galápagos Islands had abundant and varied fish resources. The
importance of marine resources to the economy increased steadily,
and fisheries were one of the faster-growing industries in the
1980s, as both export sales and domestic consumption increased.
Tuna represented the most important of the many varieties of
saltwater fish. Most of the tuna caught was skipjack or albacore,
although the yellowfin was the variety most often exported. Ecuador
modernized its tuna fleet in the late 1980s with the addition of
refrigerated vessels and the leasing of several large seiners
(nets) from the United States.
Shrimp production was the strongest growth area in the fishing
industry. Although ocean shrimping declined, Ecuador's warm climate
and shallow coastal waters, especially in the Gulf of Guayaquil,
provided ideal conditions for shrimp farming. In 1986 Ecuador
overtook Mexico as the world's largest shrimp exporter. Other
important fish included sardines, anchovies, and mackerel. Most of
the anchovies and sardines were canned for the export market, with
the remainder ground into fishmeal for poultry feed. Except for a
few trout hatcheries in the Sierra, the country gave little
attention to freshwater fish.
Data as of 1989