Fishing and seafood make major contributions to national economy

NATIONWIDE — Seafood consumption is up and recreational saltwater fishing continues to be a popular national pastime – these were the takeaways from two new reports published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA.

The NOAA Fisheries reports, which came out on Dec. 13, stated U.S. fishermen landed 9.9 billion pounds of fish and shellfish in 2017, up 344 million pounds – or 3.6 percent – from 2016. The United States also imported 5.9 billion pounds of seafood last year, an increase of 1.6 percent.

Salmon, at $688 million, was the highest valued commercial species of 2017, according to the NOAA report. Other highly valued species were:

  • Crabs, $610 million
  • Lobsters, $594 million
  • Shrimp, $531 million
  • Scallops, $512 million
  • Alaska polluck, $413 million.

NOAA added saltwater angling continued to be a significant contributor to the national economy, with 202 million marine fishing trips taken in 2017.

“Saltwater recreational fishing remains among the nation’s favorite pastimes,” the NOAA report stated. “The top six recreational U.S. species ranked by harvested weight were striped bass, bluefish, red snapper, sheephead, yellowfin tuna, and red drum.”

California, meanwhile, supported the highest number of seafood industry jobs in 2016, according to NOAA. The state supported an estimated 125,000 jobs in 2016, well ahead of the second place state, Massachusetts (87,000 seafood industry jobs). Rounding out the top 10 for seafood industry jobs were Florida (77,000), Washington (55,000), Alaska (47,000), Maine (42,000), New Jersey (37,000), Louisiana (36,000), New York (33,000) and Texas (22,000).

“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,” NOAA’s economic report stated. “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.”

The agency’s economic analysis of recreational fishing found the nation’s anglers supported 472,000 jobs and generated $68 billion in sales impact across the country.

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