1. Commercial fishing
  2. (Europe+America) VS Asia
  3. VS Southern Hemisphere
  4. Norway
  5. Japan

Continuing the [Location Factor] articles series for UPSC General Studies paper 1.

Commercial fishing: Location factors

Why is commercial fishing developed in middle to higher latitudes of Northern hemisphere?
Plankton availability

  • Fishes eat plankton.
  • Phytoplankton require sunlight = they can develop well in continental shelves and shallow seas because of Sunlight penetration and minerals from coastal water.
  • Planktons reproduce more in cooler waters

Observe the following map: yellow areas= continental shelf/ shallow areas=better for fishing.

Observe the indented coastlines in N.America and Europe.

Locate South China Sea. You can understand one of the reasons why China and neighbours keep fighting over it=rich-fish resources.

map-continental shelf commerical fishing industry
Ocean Currents
When cold and hot current meet, there will be lot of planktons, hence lot of fishes.

warm cold fishermen of ____ benefit
gulf stream labrador US+ Canada (North Western Atlantic coast)
Kuroshio Oyashio Honshu, Japan

Location Factor: Fishing Equipment

In the medieval times, temperate forests provided following

  1. Both soft and hard wood for construction of fishing boats.
  2. Naval stores (Raisin, pitch, tar and turpentine). They are derived from resinous materials from coniferous trees, were used to make wooden vessels watertight.

Today, commercial fishing vessels don’t need any of above, but steel and heavy engineering industry also developed in surround the coastal regions (e.g. Great lakes-Pittsburg) =shipbuilding industry.

Location Factor: Fishing Market

  • In the mountainous regions of Asia and Europe, agricultural production is quite low =Fish important source of protein. Example Japan and Norway.
  • Asia= fish + rice= main diet of many were Asian countries. (because Fish is cheaper than meat)
  • When Europeans started migrating to North America, most of the early urban settlements were on or near the Eastern coast = ready market for selling fish products.
  • During weekly fast of Catholics, fish must be eaten instead of meat.
  • Before electricity/petroleum, whale oil was the chief source of fuel and lubricant.
  • in developed countries, fishes even used as animal food, fertilizers
  • Medical uses of cod liver oil, demand for fur products (walrus, seals) and so on.
  • Fish gutting = significant weight loss. Hence fish processing is either done on the vessel or near the coastal plants.
Other factors:
Coastline Highly indented coastline provides many sites for harbors and ports.
  • The cool temperate climate favors large scale commercial fishing, preservation and storage of fish.
  • While tropical areas= hot, moist = fish cannot be stored for long.
Labour hilly terrain = less cultivable areas.Cold long winters= not good for agriculture= more people switch to fishing. Eg. Iceland, Japan, Norway.

Fishing regions across the world

Observe the concetration in Europe & America
location prominent fishing area
Northern Europe
  1. Dogger bank,
  2. great fisher bank
US Canada
  1. Grand bank, George bank,
  2. Nova Scotia, Newfoundland

Commercial Fishing: (Europe+America) VS Asia

Within Northern Hemisphere, Commercial fishing is more developed in North Europe and North America, compared to Asia (Except Japan), why?

Why Commercial fishing well developed in N.America & Europe?
Factor impact
  • Tropical climate= fish cannot be stored for long.
  • Asia has relatively smooth coast line = less natural harbors than Europe/N.America
  • Continental shelves are narrower than Europe, North America
  • Commercial fishing requires large ships- multiple varieties of fishes caught, separated, processed for packing on the ship itself, high-tech equipment to scan fishing waters for optimal location and so on.
  • Such vessels and technology require massive capital investment= available in Europe, America but not much in Asia.
species variety
  • But in the tropical regions of Asia, multiple variety of fishes occur, but in smaller groups=not good for large scale commercial exploitation.
  • Tropical fishes=higher oil content= less desirable for eating.

Commercial Fishing: VS Southern Hemisphere

  • Northern Hemisphere= more land than Southern Hemisphere=large population = fish demand is large.
  • In Southern hemisphere nations such as Argentina, New Zealand and Australia, meat and dairy products are plenty =not much demand for fishes.
  • Continental shelves are narrower than Europe, North America=less plankton=less fish

Let’s check two leading fishing nations:

Norway Japan
extensive continental shelf=good for plankton=more fishes
  1. Sea of Japan=shallow water=more planktons
  2. North-West pacific continental shelf=more planktons
  3. meeting of kuroshio (warm) and oyashio (Cold) currents= more planktons
long, fiorded coastline with many offshore islands= good sites for fishing and villages more than 3000 islands, indent ended coastline
  • soil, climate not suitable for agro=people shifted to fishing
  • They’re skilled at fishing, due to long seafaring generation, right from the times of Vikings and Norsemen.
  • Mountainous country=less area for cultivation= people shift to fishing
  • Already good experience for whale fishing.
  • Genuine pearls rare, in the early 1900s of Japanese invented method to cultivate pearls artificially=shows their expertise.
  • well established shipbuilding industry
  • hilly terrain + fast flowing river=cheap hydroelectricity=helps in canning industry.
  • Steel industry, marine engineering developed in costal areas using imported coal and iron ore
  • ^provides material for sophisticated fishing vessels with processing and refrigeration facilities onboard.
  • Most settlements on or near coastal areas=diet is marine dependent
  • Cold climate=fish preservation easier.
  • Livestock/dairy farming=not much hence fish = main source of protein.
  • exports to nearby Asian countries

India: east vs. West

In India, fishing is more developed along western coast than in Eastern coast because

  1. continental shelf in Western Coast=wider=more plankton = more fishes
  2. Commercial varieties like Prawns and Mackerel are mostly confined along western coast.

Other than that, these books don’t contain much wisdom on “Location factor” for Indian fisheries (just list of species found, fisherman use outdated equipment, problem of overfishing etc.)
In the next article, we’ll see the location factors for industries based on natural fibers (Cotton, silk, wool and jute)

Mock Questions

Explain reasons for following (5 marks each)

  1. Canada is a leading manufacturer of newsprint
  2. Malaysia and Philippines are leading exporters of tropical hardwood

10 marks

  1. Commercial fishing and lumbering better developed in the higher latitudes of Northern Hemisphere compared to other parts of the world. Comment.
  2. Factors responsible for overwhelming use of hardwood for fuels vs. industrial use of softwood.
  3. Provide the distribution of paper-pulp industry for any one country and explain the locational advantages for this distribution?
  4. To what extend has proximity to water transport or rail communication influenced timber exploitation? Explain with examples from India and any one foreign country.
  5. Explain the factors responsible for the thriving fish-industry in any one of the following countries
    1. Japan
    2. Norway
    3. Canada
  6. Explain the parts played by each of the following factors, in the development of Lumbering industry
    1. hydro electricity
    2. frozen ground
    3. technological changes