The United States now consumes about 10.5 billion pounds of fish a year-7.5 percent of the world fish catch for 5.3 percent of world population.
About half of this fish is imported, half caught by U.S. fisherman. And about half is food fish, while half goes for so-called industrial purposes-pet food, animal feed, fish oils.
Of the food fish, about two-thirds is eaten in restaurants, particularly fast-food establishments. Americans now eat about 13 pounds of fish per capita each year, compared to 166 pounds of meat and 51 of poultry.
The fish that U.S. fishermen catch in greatest quantity is menhaden, an industrial species. It makes up about a third of the U.S. catch (though only about 5 percent by value.)
Among food fish, shrimp, crab, tuna and salmon are dominant, in that order. They make up tow-thirds of value, about half of volume. Catches of other species, such as cod and haddock, are small by comparison.
The Pacific and Gulf fisheries are by far the nation's largest; next come New England and the Chesapeake.
Fish prices have risen much faster than meat and poultry prices in recent years, partly because of depletion of stocks. Fish that cost $1 in 1967 cost $2.51 in 1977. For meat, the comparable 1977 figure was $1.77, for poultry, $1.57, for food generally, $1.92.