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Dutch Harbor named top fish port

November 10th, 2017 | Jim Paulin Print this article   Email this article  

For the 20th year in a row, Unalaska/Dutch Harbor is the nation's top fish port by volume, landing 770 million pounds of seafood. Pollock accounted for nearly 90 percent, according to a Nov. 1 report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

While Unalaska led the nation in volume, New Bedford, Mass. was tops in value for the 17th consecutive year, at $327 million, due to the higher-value sea scallop fishery, despite just 107 million pounds reported at the East Coast port.

Unalaska/Dutch Harbor was second in value in 2016, at $198 million.

Commercial and recreational fisheries remain a strong contributor to the United States economy, according to the annual Fisheries of the United States report released last week by NOAA.

In 2016, U.S. commercial fishermen landed 9.6 billion pounds of seafood (down 1.5 percent from 2015) valued at $5.3 billion (up 2.1 percent from 2015). The highest value commercial species were lobster ($723 million), crabs ($704 million), scallops ($488 million), shrimp ($483 million), salmon ($420 million)and Alaska walleye pollock ($417 million). By volume, the nation's largest commercial fishery remains Alaska walleye pollock, which showed near-record landings of 3.4 billion pounds (up 3 percent from 2015), representing 35 percent of total U.S. commercial and recreational seafood landings.

In 2016, the U.S. imported 5.8 billion pounds of seafood (up 1 percent compared to 2015) worth $19.5 billion (up 3.5 percent). However, a significant portion of this imported seafood is caught by American fishermen, exported overseas for processing, and then reimported to the United States.

Shrimp and salmon are two of the top three imported species and much of that is farm-raised. The U.S. ranks 16th in total aquaculture production around the world—far behind China, Indonesia and India. Aquaculture numbers for 2016 are not available, but for perspective, in 2015, estimated freshwater plus marine U.S. aquaculture production was 627.4 million pounds with a value of $1.4 billion.

"With the United States importing billions of pounds of seafood annually, and with so much of that seafood foreign farm-raised, the numbers in this report underscore the untapped potential of aquaculture here at home," said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. "Expanding our nation's aquaculture capacity presents an opportunity to reduce America's reliance on imports, while creating thousands of new jobs."

The report also shows that the average American ate 14.9 pounds of fish and shellfish in 2016, a decrease from 15.5 pounds the year before. U.S. dietary guidelines recommend 8-12 ounces of seafood species per week, or 26-39 pounds per person, per year.

Saltwater recreational fishing remains one of America's favorite pastimes and a key contributor to the national economy—with 9.6 million anglers making nearly 63 million trips in 2016, catching more than 371 million fish (61 percent of which are released alive), and in 2015, contributing $36 billion to the national economy. By weight, striped bass remains the top harvested catch among saltwater anglers, followed by dolphinfish, bluefish, yellowfin tuna, spotted seatrout and summer flounder.

NOAA Fisheries will release a detailed look at economic impact of recreational and commercial fisheries on the U.S. economy in the upcoming Fisheries Economics of the United States.


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