American seafood consumption up in 2015, landing volumes even

Americans added an average of almost one pound of seafood to their diet in 2015, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s annual report on U.S. consumption.

Average per capita consumption of seafood increase to 15.5 pounds in 2015, up 0.9 pounds from the 14.6 average per capita consumption level in 2014. NOAA attributed the rise to an increase in the consumption of fresh and frozen seafood, though consumption of canned seafood also rose in 2015.

The report, Fisheries of the United States, provides a national-level overview of U.S. recreational catch and commercial fisheries landings and value, U.S. aquaculture production, the U.S. seafood processing industry, imports and exports of fishery-related products, and domestic supply and per capita consumption of fishery products.

About 90 percent of the seafood consumed in the U.S. in 2015 was imported, according to NOAA estimates, though the report acknowledges this number may be overestimated, as it includes domestic catch that is exported for processing and returned to the United States as a processed import. The report estimates the United States is now the second-largest consumer of seafood in the world, surpassing Japan but behind China.

"Fishing and seafood is big business for our country. Marine and coastal fisheries contribute billions of dollars to the national economy, support 1.8 million jobs, and keep our ports and waterways open for business," said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries. "Thanks to longstanding legislation and continued innovation in fisheries science and management, we are seeing real returns from our nation's efforts to end overfishing and make our fisheries more sustainable."

U.S. fishermen landed 9.7 billion pounds of fish and shellfish valued at USD 5.2 billion (EUR 4.76 billion) in 2015, a volume and value similar to recent years, according to NOAA. The highest value U.S. commercial species were lobster at USD 679.2 million (EUR 621.7 million), crab at USD 678.7 million (EUR 621.3 million), shrimp at USD 488.4 million (EUR 447.1 million), salmon at USD 460.2 million (EUR 421.3 million), and pollock at USD 441.7 million (EUR 404.4 million). By volume, the nation's largest commercial fishery remain pollock, which had landings of 3.3 billion pounds, up four percent from last year, followed by menhaden, which accounted for 1.6 billion pounds (up 29 percent).

The total value of fishery products imported into the United States in 2015 was USD 34.3 billion (EUR 31.4 billion), a decrease of four percent, or USD 1.6 billion (EUR 1.46 billion), compared with 2014. The total export value of U.S. fishery products was USD 28.4 billion (EUR 26 billion) in 2015, a decrease of USD 1.6 billion (EUR 1.46 billion), or 5 percent, compared with 2014.

U.S. consumers spent an estimated USD 96 billion (EUR 87.9 billion) on fishery products in 2015. The 2015 total includes USD 64.8 billion (EUR 59.3 billion) in spending at food service establishments (primarily restaurants) and USD 31.0 billion (EUR 29.4 billion) in retail sales for home consumption. NOAA estimates the commercial marine fishing industry contributed USD 48.7 billion (EUR 44.6 billion) in value added to the U.S. gross national product.

U.S. per capita consumption of fresh and frozen products was 11.5 pounds in 2015, an increase of 0.6 pounds from 2014. Fresh and frozen finfish accounted for 6.5 pounds, while fresh and frozen shellfish consumption was 5.0 pounds per capita. Consumption of canned fishery products was 3.7 pounds per capita in 2015, up 0.3 pounds from 2014. Cured fish accounted for 0.3 pounds per capita, the same as in previous years.

The Alaskan port of Dutch Harbor led the nation for the 19th year in a row with the highest amount of seafood landed at 787 million pounds, valued at USD 218 million (EUR 200 million). New Bedford, Massachusetts, had the highest valued catch from one port at USD 322 million (EUR 295 million) for 124 million pounds, primarily as a result of scallop landings, which accounted for more than 76 percent of this value.

Of all the major U.S. fishing regions, the West Coast suffered the largest declines in catch totals, due to the closure of the Pacific sardine fishery due to low abundance levels and the limiting of the Dungeness crab fishery as a result of high levels of domoic acid.

“Other species like loligo squid and Pacific hake (whiting) also saw declines in catches, potentially due to changing ocean conditions,” the report said.

Aquaculture figures for 2015 are not yet available, but for perspective, the report said the U.S. aquaculture industry, whose top-produced marine species include oysters, clams, and Atlantic salmon, generated 608 million pounds of seafood valued at USD 1.3 billion (EUR 1.19 billion) in 2014. This equates to 20 percent of the value and 6 percent of the volume of total U.S. production of fishery products.


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