In many parts of the country, October is the real onset of autumn. Some regions see temperatures begin to drop and leaves start to turn vibrant shades of red, yellow, and orange, while others experience a change in the patterns of wind and rain. In each case, the natural world is preparing for the winter ahead. My love of seafood is a year-round passion, but this year it seems fitting that we celebrate National Seafood Month during this season of transition. On a much broader time scale, our fisheries and the communities that rely on them—for food, cultural heritage, and economic security—are also in a season of transition, driven by the impacts of a changing climate. Those changes require us to work together to build resilience in our fisheries and communities. One simple way to support our commercial fishing sector is to eat more seafood!
The U.S. commercial seafood industry supports 1.1 million jobs and generates $155 billion in sales in seafood and across the U.S. economy. Our nation harvests and farms about 8 billion pounds of seafood for consumption each year, with a dockside value of around $6 billion. By adding more U.S. seafood to your diet, you can feel good knowing you’re eating a healthy, responsibly farmed or fished product. You’re also directly supporting an industry that is sustainably managed and critical to our food system. And that’s certainly something to celebrate!
With all this on the line, there is more interest than ever in how science can keep up with management and how management can be responsive to the changes. Those are primary areas of focus at NOAA Fisheries—and you can be sure we are investing in them. Just as the plants and animals are preparing for the changing conditions of winter, we at NOAA Fisheries have been working to respond to the many challenges facing the U.S. seafood industry.
In August, we released the National Seafood Strategy, which was developed with significant public input. The strategy outlines our comprehensive vision for what we can do to support seafood businesses and communities along the supply chain—and we are committed to carrying out that work. It underscores NOAA’s strong commitment to seafood sector resilience and aligns with the Biden-Harris Administration's goals for economic recovery, environmental sustainability, and climate resilience.
The strategy also reinforces our critical science and management support to the seafood sector. Our stakeholders recognize that the science we conduct to support the management of wild capture fisheries and seafood farming is essential for the well-being of the U.S. seafood sector. What is new in this strategy is an emphasis on climate change and a refocus on vital industry services. We will increase support of partners and the seafood sector by funding projects such as critical habitat restoration that supports healthy and productive fisheries. Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, NOAA Fisheries will see an unprecedented investment in climate and conservation measures. The positive impacts of these initiatives will no doubt be felt across the seafood sector.
So, as we start the fall season, let's celebrate National Seafood Month by recognizing our past successes and our active preparations to meet the challenges that lie ahead. I am optimistic that these efforts, and our collaborative engagement with partners across the supply chain, will serve to strengthen our seafood communities for the future. Follow along throughout October by visiting our Seafood Month page or join the conversation by using #SeafoodMonth on social media. And remember to enjoy delicious, healthy seafood this month and every month!
Janet Coit, assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries