Fishing and seafood is big business for United States. Marine and
coastal fisheries contribute billions of dollars to the national
economy, support 1.8 million jobs, and keep our ports and waterways open
Across the nation, U.S. fishermen landed 9.7 billion pounds of fish and shellfish valued at $5.2 billion, a volume and value similar to recent years. The highest value U.S. commercial species were lobster ($679.2 million), crab ($678.7 million), shrimp ($488.4 million), salmon ($460.2 million), and Alaska (walleye) pollock ($441.7 million). By volume, the nation's largest commercial fishery remains Alaska (walleye) pollock, which had landings of 3.3 billion pounds (up 4% from 2015), trailed by Atlantic and Gulf menhaden, which accounted for 1.6 billion pounds (up 29%).
Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries, said, "Thanks to longstanding legislation and continued innovation in fisheries science and management, we are seeing real returns on our nation's efforts to end overfishing and make our fisheries more sustainable."
Along the West Coast, however, a number of fisheries experienced declines. The Pacific sardine fishery was closed due to low abundance estimates. The Dungeness crab fishery also saw a closure due to high levels of domoic acid, which can be poisonous to humans. Other species like loligo squid and Pacific hake (whiting) also saw declines in catches, potentially due to changing ocean conditions.
Saltwater recreational fishing remained strong with 8.9 million anglers making nearly 61 million trips, resulting in a catch of more than 350 million fish with 57% reported released. Striped bass remains the top harvested catch among saltwater recreational anglers, followed by yellowfin tuna, mahi mahi, bluefish and red drum.
The report also shows that the average American ate 15.5 pounds of fish and shellfish in 2015, a 0.9 pound increase from last year. U.S. dietary guidelines recommend eating 8-12 ounces of seafood each week for a healthy diet.
Aquaculture figures for 2015 are not yet available, but for perspective, the U.S. aquaculture industry, whose top-produced marine species include oysters, clams, and Atlantic salmon, generated 608 million pounds of seafood valued at $1.3 billion in 2014. This equates to 20% of the value and 6% of the volume of total U.S. production of fishery products.