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Dedicated Vessel Research Program Records

Identifier: MS-0101

Scope and Contents

The Dedicated Vessel Research Program Records, which date from 1972 to 1980, document the entire scope of the DVRP project undertaken in the late 1970s, and includes records generated by the DVRP as well as other records and publications scientists used, read, or considered over the course of the project.  The tuna/porpoise problem is heavily documented. The collection consists of agreements, summaries, reports, permits, notes, plans, "green books", logs, transcripts, letters, sighting records, raw data, statements, expendable bathythermographs ("XBTs"), correspondence, news clippings, publicity releases, photographic slides, and video. The collection is divided into five series: Background Material, Cruise Files, Statements and Stocks of Porpoises (SOPs), Correspondence and Reports, and Media.

The Background Material, dating from 1972 to 1980, documents the creation and operation of the research program, and includes records dating from well before research started to those generated after the project's completion. The series is divided into five sub-series: Agreement, Permits, Reports, Notes, and Summaries. The agreement (December 30, 1977) concerns the utilization of a dedicated vessel and gives the Marine Mammal Commission, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the United States Tuna Foundation's stipulation for the Dedicated Vessel Research Program. The Permits include gear permits and the marine mammal permit, as well as the Marine Mammal Protection act of 1972 and other laws regarding the vessel research. The Reports are the progress reports for the cruises and the overview and final report. The Notes are for the photographic slides, prints, and movies.  The Summaries are of the cruises.  Each sub- series is sorted alphabetically by file name.

The Cruise Files, dating from January to December 1978, document the procedures and events that took place on each cruise, as well as personal observations of personnel who worked on the project.  It includes records generated throughout each cruise from beginning to end. The series is divided into five sub divisions: Cruise I, II, III, IIIa, IV, and V. Most subdivisions include a cruise plan, "green books", logs, records, transcripts, "XBTs", and a cruise summary. Each sub series is filed in the order the cruises took place. Researchers should note that the third cruise was run two times, and the collection includes records from both Cruise IIIs.  Each cruise was individual in its research and records, though the sub-series resemble each other.  Each sub-series is filed chronologically by date.

The Statements and Stocks of Porpoises (SOPs) series dating from 1976 to 1980, and documents the porpoise populations and the condition of porpoises in the eastern tropical pacific region.  It includes statements regarding the Dedicated Vessel Research program and reports of the workshop on stock assessment of porpoises involved in the eastern pacific tuna fishery. The "SOPs" discuss the optimum sustainable population, various dolphins associated with stock assessments, and essential research.  The series is filed alphabetically by file name.

The Correspondence and Reports series, dating from 1976 to 1980, documents the interaction of the DVRP with various sponsoring organizations, including the Marine Mammal Commission, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and United States Tuna Foundation, as well as what information the research program released to the press, and press coverage received by the project.   It includes various reports and letters of correspondence. The series also holds reports for each DVRP cruise as well as news clippings and publicity releases. These include pictures and information the research program opened to the press, as well as articles written in the newspaper about the program. The series is filed alphabetically by file name.

The Media series, 1978, consists of photographs and video footage taken during all 5 DVRP cruises. The series is divided into two sub series: Photographic Slides and Video. The Photographic Slides include pictures of crewmen, fishing operations, boats, fishing equipment, fish, and birds.  The videos cover aspects of fishing operations, personnel, and fish. The Photographic Slides and Video sub-series are filed according to who took, or owned, the media.  The DVRP's filing and numbering system is intact.


  • Creation: 1972-1980
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1976-1980


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in some or all of these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creator(s) of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of archival collections is such that multiple creators are often applicable and copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine. In any case, the user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, obtaining publication rights and copyright infringement. When requesting images from Special Collections & University Archives for publication, we require a signed agreement waiving San Diego State University of any liability in the event of a copyright violation.

Historical Note

San Diego, a geographical hot-spot for tuna fishing, was known as the Tuna Capital of the World from the early 1930s to the late 1970s. Since tuna often associate with porpoise in their native habitats, fisherman typically set nets around visible herds of porpoise to catch tuna. This type of fishing for tuna is known as purse seining, or "net fishing", and has led to the killing of many porpoises. Purse seines, first used in Southern California in 1916, are used to catch many different species of fish. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, as foreign competition out-caught American tuna fishermen, the U.S. bait-boat fleet slowly switched to purse seine gear to increase the number of tuna captured.

The Dedicated Vessel Research Program (DVRP) studied the relationships between the porpoise and tuna. The Marine Mammal Commission (MMC), the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and the United States Tuna Foundation (USTF) established the DVRP in 1977. The program studied the behaviors and relationship of tuna and porpoise, as well as the impact of tuna fishing on the porpoise population. The DVRP also sought to develop fishing equipment and procedures to minimize injury to and death rates of porpoises. The program did its research in the Eastern Tropical Pacific. The DVRP began research on board the M/V Queen Mary in January of 1978 and concluded in December of 1978 with its fifth and final cruise.

San Diego's tuna industry closed in the early 1980s because of over-regulation, rising costs, and environmental pressure. By 1989 more than seventy nations participated in fishing tuna. Ten of these nations, including Japan, the United States, Spain, and South Korea, accounted for almost 85% of the international catch. Japan and America caught 41% of the world's tuna.


9.01 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

I. Background materials, 1972-1980

II. Cruise Files, 1978

1. Cruise I, January–March 1978

2. Cruise II, April–June 1978

3. Cruise III, Legs 1 and 2, June–July 1978

4. Cruise IV, September–October 1978

5. Cruise V, November–December 1978

III. Statements and Stocks of Porpoises (SOPs), 1976–1980

IV. Correspondence and Reports, 1976–1980

V. Media, 1978

1. Photographic Slides, 1978

2. Video, 1978

Dedicated Vessel Research Program Records
Micah Klausman (Intern)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections & University Archives Repository

5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego CA 92182-8050 US