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2018 a Strong, Successful Year for U.S. Fishermen and Seafood Sector

February 21, 2020

Annual NOAA report finds steady, sustainable trends in fish landings and values.


In 2018, U.S. fishermen landed 9.4 billion pounds of fish valued at $5.6 billion at ports around the nation—consistently high figures on par with recent years, which bring economic benefits up and down the seafood supply chain, according to an annual report released today by NOAA Fisheries.


In 2018, U.S. commercial fishermen caught 9.4 billion pounds of seafood valued at $5.6 billion. Highest value species groups included lobster, crabs, salmon, scallops, and shrimp. Credit: NOAA Fisheries.  

According to the Fisheries of the United States report, which is compiled by NOAA using data and analysis not immediately available at the same end of a fishing year, U.S. highest value species groups in 2018 included lobster ($684 million), crabs ($645 million), salmon ($598 million), scallops ($541 million), and shrimp ($496 million). Dutch Harbor in Alaska, and New Bedford in Massachusetts, continue to dominate the list of top ports driven by landings of pollock for Alaska (the nation’s largest commercial fishery) and top-valued sea scallops in Massachusetts.

"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," said U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. "Consumers can be confident that U.S. seafood represents the global gold standard in sustainability."


Roughly 8.5 million recreational anglers took a total of 194 million fishing trips. Credit: NOAA Fisheries. 

Recreational anglers also had a banner year, with 8.5 million anglers taking 194 million saltwater fishing trips that reeled in top species like striped bass, dolphinfish, red snapper, yellowfin tuna, red drum, and spotted seatrout.

Although figures for U.S. marine and freshwater aquaculture production lag by a year, the report found that in 2017 these industries remained strong at $1.5 billion, with farmed oysters, clams, and salmon generating the highest values for marine aquaculture.

Seafood consumption was slightly higher in 2018 at 16.1 pounds (up 0.1 pounds from 2017), the result of consumption increases in fresh and frozen seafood products. The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that people eat two 4-ounce servings of seafood each week, totaling 26 pounds per year per individual.

The report also outlines U.S. seafood trade statistics. Overall the United States imported $22.4 billion worth of edible seafood products and exported $5.6 billion for a trade deficit of $16.8 billion.

View more statistics from the report, including detailed information about specific fish stocks and industry sectors.

Audio from the February 21, 2020, NOAA press conference can be downloaded here

Last updated by NOAA Fisheries Public Affairs on February 21, 2020