It took a while to crunch the numbers, but on December 13, 2018, NOAA Fisheries released Fisheries of the United States, 2017 and Fisheries Economics of the United States, 2016. The first report provides statistics on commercial landings and value and recreational catch figures. It also includes data on the fish processing industry, aquaculture production, imports and exports, and per capita seafood consumption. The Fisheries Economics of the United States document analyzes the economic impact of fisheries and related sectors, including employment, sales, and value-added impacts to the broader economy.
Fishing and seafood consumption in the United States increased in 2017, with landings and value of US fisheries continuing a strong, positive trend. Across the nation, American fishermen landed 9.9 billion pounds of fish and shellfish, while the US imported 5.9 billion pounds of seafood, up 1.6 percent. The landings represent an increase of 344 million pounds (3.6 percent) from the year before. The value of the landings also increased to $5.4 billion, up $110 million (2.1 percent) from 2016.
Overall, the highest value US commercial species was salmon ($688 million), crabs ($610 million), lobsters ($594 million), shrimp ($531 million), scallops ($512 million), and Alaska pollock ($413 million). By volume, the nation’s largest commercial fishery remains Alaska pollock, which had near record landings of 3.4 billion pounds (up 1 percent from 2016).
Saltwater recreational fishing remains among the nation’s favorite pastimes. The revised recreational fishing estimates survey demonstrates how recreational fishing remains a key contributor to the national economy, with 202 million marine fishing trips taken. The top six recreational US species ranked by harvested weight were striped bass, bluefish, red snapper, sheepshead, yellowfin tuna and red drum.
This Fisheries Economics of the United States, 2016 report provides the most up-to-date economic statistics on commercial and recreational fisheries as well as seafood-related businesses for each coastal state and the nation. A key piece of the latest report is the jobs, sales, income, and value added to the Gross National Product (GDP) by the fishing and seafood industries. This provides a measure of how sales from commercial and recreational fishing ripple through state and national economies as each dollar spent generates additional economic effects.
In 2016, economic impacts from recreational fishing grew across the board. Nationally, 9.8 million saltwater anglers took recreational fishing trips in 2016 – a 9 percent increase in anglers from 2015. Saltwater recreational fishing supported 472,000 jobs, generated $68 billion in sales impacts across the economy, and contributed $39 billion to the GDP, all metrics that increased 7 percent from 2015 measurements.
The commercial fishing and seafood industry – harvesters, processors, dealers, wholesalers and retailers – supported 1.2 million jobs in 2016, generating $144 billion in sales impacts and adding $61 billion to the GDP. The domestic harvest produced $53 billion in sales, up 2 percent from 2015, and supported 711,000 jobs across the entire American economy. American lobster and sea scallops had the largest revenue increases, with each product up $46 million in revenue in the past year.
NOAA Fisheries, also known as the National Marine Fisheries Service, is an office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration within the Department of Commerce. Headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, it has five regional offices, six science centers, and more than 20 laboratories around the United States and US territories.
The agency is responsible for the stewardship of the nation’s ocean resources and their habitat. US fisheries are among the world’s largest and most sustainable.