NOAA Fisheries report: 2018 production down, but value up

NOAA Fisheries has released the “Fisheries of the United States 2018” report, and it indicates that the production of both wild-capture and aquaculture was down in the U.S. in 2018, while the value of both sectors increased.

U.S. commercial fishermen combined to land 9.4 billion pounds (4.3 million metric tons) of seafood, a 5.3 percent decrease of 531 million pounds over the 2017 total. The value of those landings, however, increased by 2.8 percent, or USD 150 million (EUR 138 million), to USD 5.6 billion (EUR 5.1 billion).

Aquaculture also saw a small decrease in production, totaling 625.7 million pounds – a drop of 7.8 million pounds, or 1 percent. The value, similar to the wild-capture total, was up, hitting USD 1.47 billion (EUR 1.35 billion), an increase of 1 percent over 2016.

Despite the increase in value, the U.S. still had a significant trade deficit. The country imported USD 22.4 billion (EUR 20.6 billion) worth of seafood, while only exporting USD 5.6 billion (EUR 5.1 billion) worth. That resulted in a trade deficit of USD 16.8 billion (EUR 15.4 billion).  

Of those imports, shrimp was by far the largest in terms of value, with USD 6.2 billion (EUR 5.7 billion), which alone represents more value than all U.S. exports combined. In volume terms, fillets was the highest, with 1.6 billion pounds of fillets – which includes fresh and frozen product – imported.

For U.S. fisheries, by volume, Alaska pollock was once again the most-landed species in country, with more than 3.63 billion pounds of the species caught. Coupled to that Dutch Harbor, Alaska – which catches primarily Alaska pollock – was once again the country’s largest port by volume, with 763 million pounds of fish landed.

“Dutch Harbor Alaska keeps its long-time title, now for 22 years in a row, for the nation’s highest-volume fishing port,” NOAA Fisheries Chief Scientists Cisco Werner said.

Rounding out the top five most-landed species were menhaden, with over 1.58 billion pounds landed; hake, with 703 million pounds landed; salmon, with 575 million pounds landed; and flatfish, with 547 million pounds landed.

The title for highest-value port once again went to New Bedford, Massachusetts, with a harbor value of USD 431 million (EUR 397 million), more than double the value of the next most-valuable port of Naknek, Alaska, which was worth USD 195 million (EUR 179 million).

“That is mainly due to the very highly valued sea scallop fishery,” Werner said of New Bedford's total.

In terms of fishery value, the most valuable fishery in the United States was the lobster fishery. The fishery’s value was, in 2018, USD 684 million (EUR 630 million). Coming in behind lobster was the nation’s crab fisheries, with a value of USD 645 million (EUR 594 million).

The third most-valuable fishery was the salmon fishery, which represented USD 598 million (EUR 550 million) in ex-vessel value. Following salmon was the scallop industry, which fetched USD 541 million (EUR 498 million), with the fifth most-valuable fishery being shrimp at 496 million (EUR 456 million).

The nation’s highest volume fishery, Alaska pollock, was sixth in value in 2018, with an ex-vessel value of 451 million (EUR 415 million). The second highest-volume fishery, menhaden, was tenth in terms of value, coming in at USD 161 million (EUR 148 million).

Regionally, Alaska represented the largest portion of the country’s landings, thanks in part to its robust Alaska pollock fishery. Alaska netted 58 percent of all landings in the United States, which represented 32 percent of the country’s value.

In terms of value, the Atlantic fisheries – which contain the valuable lobster and scallop fisheries, among others – came in at the top, capturing 37 percent of the country’s value despite having just 14 percent of the nation’s landings.

The Pacific region totaled roughly 12 percent of the landings and 13 percent of the value, while the Gulf of Mexico fisheries snagged 16 percent of the landings and 16 percent of the value. Hawaii, all told, contributed less than 1 percent of volume and 2 percent of landings value.

In terms of aquaculture, oysters represented both the largest volume and value in terms of production, with 36 million pounds produced worth USD 186 million (EUR 171 million). Coming in second in value was clams, with a value of USD 129 million (EUR 118 million) despite a much smaller harvest of 9 million pounds. Salmon then came third in terms of value at USD 61 million (EUR 56 million), and second in terms of volume with 32 million pounds harvested.

"America's fishermen and seafood industries underpin our strong blue economy. Our fisheries are among the world's most sustainable and support thousands of jobs, provide billions of dollars in revenue, and provide protein-rich options to dinner tables," U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a press release announcing the presentation of the report. "Consumers can be confident that U.S. seafood represents the global gold standard in sustainability." 

Photo courtesy of Peter Leahy/Shutterstock 


Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500