Wednesday, November 1, 2017

NOAA Says American Fisheries Remain a Strong Economic Driver

NOAA Fisheries released its annual Fisheries of the United States report today, noting that through 2016 the nation’s largest commercial fishery by volume was still Alaska walleye Pollock, with near record landings of 3.4 billion pounds, up 3 percent from 2015.

For the 20th year in a row Dutch Harbor led the nation with the highest volume of seafood landed – 7,780 million pounds valued at $198 million. The Pollock constituted 89 percent of that volume. Likewise, for the 17th year in a row, New Bedford, Massachusetts claims the highest value catch from one port – 107 million pounds, valued at $3,278 million. Sea scallops accounted for 77 percent of it.

Alaska’s Pollock harvest represented 35 percent of total U.S. commercial and recreational seafood landings.

Overall, commercial fisheries landed 9.6 billion pounds of seafood, down 1.5 percent compared to 2015, but valued at $5.3 billion, which was up 2.1 percent.

The report identified the highest value for commercial species as lobsters, $723 million; crabs, $702 million; scallops, $488 million; shrimp, $483 million; salmon, $420 million; and Alaska Pollock, $417 million.

The report also noted that in 2016 the U.S. imported 5.8 billion pounds of seafood, up 1 percent from 2015, which was worth $19.5 billion, up 3.5 percent. A significant portion of that imported seafood was caught by American fishermen, exported for processing and then reimported to the United States. Shrimp and salmon are among of the top three imported species and much of that is farm raised.

The United States ranks 16th in total aquaculture production worldwide. In 2015, 1.4 billion pounds of aquaculture production was reported in the U.S.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur ross is quoted in the report urging expansion of the nation’s aquaculture capacity as an opportunity to reduce U.S. reliance on imports, while creating thousands of new jobs. “With the United States importing millions of pounds of seafood annually, and with so much of that seafood foreign farm-raised, the numbers in this report underscore the untapped potential of aquaculture here at home,” Ross said.

The report also shows that the average American ate 14.9 pounds of fish and shellfish in 2016, down from 15.5 pounds the year before. U.S. dietary guidelines recommend 8-12 ounces of a variety of seafood species each week, or 26 to 39 pounds per person per year.

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