Fishing and seafood are an essential part of our food supply, economy, and history as a country. Commercial and recreational saltwater fishing in the United States generated more than $214 billion in sales and supported 1.83 million jobs in 2014 alone. As we continue to make strides toward rebuilding overfished stocks and sustainably increasing catches from wild fisheries, it is important to remember that wild-capture fisheries alone cannot sustainably meet the increasing demand for seafood. In the U.S. Americans consume almost 16 pounds of fish and shellfish per person every year, and seafood continues to be one of the healthiest and most sustainable ways to add protein to our diets. Demand will continue to rise. Fortunately, there’s a solution.
Alongside our robust fishing industry, aquaculture is a resource-efficient and low-cost way to provide local seafood solutions and jobs. Domestically farmed seafood is healthy and safe, in part because the U.S. has some of the strictest environmental and food safety rules and regulations in the world. Like wild-harvest seafood, farmed seafood benefits our economy by providing jobs throughout the seafood supply chain. The economic impact of the industry helps support our working waterfronts and seafood communities. Shellfish farming is currently a top job creator along the East Coast, with over 3,000 acres of new oyster leases issued in Maryland alone in the past 5 years.
Sustainable fisheries are a win-win for everyone and demonstrate the commitment and power of our many stakeholders and partnerships across the seafood supply chain. This month will see NOAA Fisheries participating in several key engagements with stakeholders across the country, including the Seafood Expo North America, the Maine Fishermen’s Forum, the State of the Gulf Summit, regional recreational fisheries roundtables, and many more. As an agency committed to preserving our living marine resources and sustainably managing our nation’s seafood supply, we welcome the chance to hear from our partners and stakeholders in person.
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs for Fisheries