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.
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