Many countries have depleted their own fishing stocks or have limited access to profitable fishing grounds, therefore, fleets travel worldwide in search of fish. To protect our own resources, a Fishery Conservation Zone, a boundary of 200 miles off the U.S. coast was established in 1977. Regulatory restrictions were enacted regarding the types and amounts of fish that could be harvested and it became a requirement that a U.S. inspector (Fisheries Observer) be aboard foreign ships during their entire fishing operation to oversee compliance and to collect biological data used to help assess fishery resources. In addition, permits costing large sums of money were imposed upon foreign nations. With the exception of Japanese longliners fishing for tuna, 1990 was the last year foreigners were allowed to fish within our boundaries due to their efficiency, and consequently, our eroding stocks. Dean Kotula worked as a Fisheries Observer for five years and documented his experience with photographs throughout this time. Dean was intent on not only documenting the methods of fishing but the men behind the work as well. The exquisite photographs in this rare body of work represent a critical turning point in the history of U.S. fisheries.
Shown here are some of the images included in this series of foreign fleets (Japan, Russia, New Zealand, Poland, Holland, Spain, Italy) conducting fishing operations on longliners and factory trawlers in U.S. waters. Also shown is an image of a ship in drydock taken while Dean worked as a shipyard machinist in Portland, Oregon.