Lobster, Scallops Boost Banner Year for US Fishing

Fishing in Imperial Beach, California. (Photo by Unsplash.com/Dakota Corbin via NOAA.gov)

(CN) – Rebounding from a drop in revenue the previous year, fisheries across the U.S. generated $212 billion in 2016, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported.

Marking the 11th annual study on fishery economics from the NOAA, the Thursday report says 2016 credits commercial and recreational saltwater fishing with contributing $100 billion to the country’s gross domestic product.

“These critical industries supported 1.7 million jobs in communities across the country,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement.

Nationally, 9.8 million saltwater anglers took recreational fishing trips in 2016 — a 9 percent increase in anglers from 2015 — according to the report. 

The NOAA said 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.

Commercial fishing and the seafood industry meanwhile supported 1.2 million jobs in 2016, generating $144 billion in sales impacts and adding $61 billion to the GDP, according to the report. The domestic harvest produced $53 billion in sales, up 2 percent from 2015, and supported 711,000 jobs across the entire American economy, the report continues.

California’s seaside industry led all other states in employment, with about 125,000 jobs, followed by 87,000 jobs in Massachusetts and 77,000 jobs in Florida. 

“This report illustrates the depth and breadth of fishing and seafood’s contribution to our country’s economy,” Chris Oliver, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries, said in a statement. “From sustainably harvesting America’s seafood to casting a line in our coastal waters, the economic impacts of commercial and recreational fishing provide a boon to each and every American community.”

Sea scallops had the largest revenue increase in 2016, bringing in $46 million in landings revenue. The domestic lobster industry also performed well, with a $43 million increase in revenue, primarily from the harvest of lobster off the coast of Maine and New England.

Conversely, walleye pollock and Pacific salmon saw drops in revenue from $457 million to $407 and $543 million to $448, respectively. Shrimp saw a slight increase from $512 million to $522 after dropping from 2014’s $702 million in revenue. 

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