In a country that is among the world's leaders in meat production, fishing has not been able to develop as an industry of any significance. In recent years, the government has tried with some success to induce the public to eat more fish in order to export more beef, one of the country's largest earners of foreign exchange. Since 1970, the government has offered fiscal incentives to encourage the modernization of the fishing industry. The catch has increased from 475,043 tons in 1982 to 1,256,000 tons in 1996 before falling to 917,725 tons in 2000.
The most favored saltwater fish are the pejerrey, a kind of mackerel; the dorado, resembling salmon but of a golden color; and the zurubí, an immense yellow-and-black-spotted catfish. The principal species in the 2000 catch were Argentine shortfin squid (30%), southern hake (30%), and Argentine hake (21%).
Argentina established a 322-km (200-mi) territorial sea limit in December 1966. In 1982, the government moved to protect Argentina's coastal waters from foreign exploitation, declaring that only 16 foreign vessels would be allowed in Argentine waters at any one time.