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COVID-19 Impacts on U.S. Fishing and Seafood Industries Show Broad Declines in 2020

December 14, 2021

NOAA Fisheries has released a report that analyzes the impacts of COVID-19 on the U.S. seafood industry and for-hire fishing sector for 2020.

View of Wrnagell Harbor

NOAA Fisheries released an updated report, U.S. Seafood Industry and For-Hire Sector Impacts from COVID-19: 2020 in Perspective. It provides an economic assessment of COVID-19 effects on the U.S. fishing and seafood industry in 2020. This includes analyses of the wild harvest, aquaculture, and the recreational charter/for-hire sectors. Our analysis shows that the COVID public health crisis created a turning point for the U.S. and the global seafood industry. It created new long-term challenges to expanding our sustainable domestic seafood sector. The pandemic also created significant challenges for the U.S. recreational for-hire industry.

Overall, our analysis of industry impacts are consistent with previous reports that indicate a broad scale and scope of the effects of COVID-19 on the entire sector.

  • Commercial fishing landings revenue declined 22 percent in 2020 relative to the 5-year baseline (2015–2019), with all regions experiencing a significant decline
  • The aquaculture industry continued to struggle despite the incremental re-opening of restaurants beginning in May 2020
  • The recreational for-hire industry saw a decline of more than 17 percent in trips nationwide from the previous 5-year annual average

Under typical circumstances, U.S. commercial and recreational fisheries and the broader U.S. seafood industry have a broad, positive economic impact on the U.S. economy. They generate more than $200 billion in annual sales and support 1.7 million jobs.

Losses vary by sector, region, and industry. Data and information from this report may help businesses and communities assess losses and inform long-term recovery and resilience strategies.