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Cattle raising accounted for some 10 percent of the value
added in agriculture for 1986. The cattle population dropped from
1,317,000 head in 1979 to only 1,010,000 head in 1986. Salvadoran
farmers raised only 400,000 pigs in 1986, an 11 percent decline
from 1979. The declines in production were attributable to
widespread overslaughtering--a result of the land reform, which
caused some large landowners to slaughter their livestock and
sell them rather than lose them to the cooperatives--smuggling,
to avoid export taxes, and the effects of the civil conflict.
Courtesy United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization
El Salvador's fishing industry, although responsible for only
0.1 percent of GDP, produced the fourth largest source of export
revenue for the country in 1986. In 1987 the fishing industry
consisted of two main sectors, a modern, capital-intensive shrimp
fishery, and a small artisanal fishery. Of the two, the shrimp
industry was the big money-maker, with shrimp exports totaling
3,700 tons in 1986, valued at US$18.4 million. Shrimp fishermen
caught an annual average of about 5,400 tons from 1980 through
1987, up from the 3,000 to 4,000 tons caught each year during the
1960s and 1970s. The abundant shrimp resource supported both a
modern shrimp fleet and an artisanal shrimp fishery.
In 1981 the government established the Center for Fisheries
Development (Centro de Desarrollo Pesquero--Cendepesca) to
develop the fishing industry. Cendepesca regulated the industry
and promoted its expansion through such devices as tax credits on
the importation of machinery, fishing boats, and inputs for
processing and exemptions of five or ten years on municipal and
income taxes for companies devoted to fishing. Cendepesca also
tried to manage the shrimp fishery (to prevent overfishing)
through required registration and licensing of shrimp boats.
Cendepesca repeatedly sought to impose a closed season during
shrimp reproduction periods, but these efforts were thwarted by
powerful lobbyists in the face of opposition from major shrimp
companies. Consequently, there was a fear that overfishing would
deplete stocks, a development that could reduce the shrimp catch
and have a major impact on the country's export earnings.
El Salvador also had an embryonic shrimp culture industry.
According to an AID feasibility study, El Salvador has 5,000
hectares of land particularly well suited for shrimp farming. By
the end of 1987, however, only four small shrimp farms were
operating in El Salvador.
The government also tried with a US$50 million loan from
France to establish a major tuna fishery. The funds were used to
build a large tuna port, complete with processing facilities, at
La Union, already a major shrimp fishing port. The project was
completed in 1981 but was never initiated because of the
government's poor management of the vessels and the project. The
Salvadoran government, which purchased two large tuna seiners for
operation in 1981 and 1982, reported meager catches because of
technical difficulties. By 1985 the facilities at La Union had
languished, and the government was unable to sell the vessels.
The weakness of the Salvadoran tuna industry became clear in
September 1986 (and again in August 1988) when the Salvadoran
government ignored the United States Marine Mammal Protection
Act, an act that requires tuna exporters to the United States to
report their efforts to reduce concomitant porpoise mortalities.
Consequently, the United States embargoed Salvadoran tuna in
September 1986 and again in 1988.
Data as of November 1988