Commercial fishing boats

Commercial Fishing

Commercial Fishing

U.S. fisheries provide jobs for our coastal communities and throughout a much broader seafood industry, while also providing a healthy food choice for citizens nationwide—more than 80 percent of U.S. landed seafood is used for human consumption.

We work to sustain commercial fishing in U.S. federal waters by studying fisheries and providing guidance and support to the nation's eight regional fishery management councils. Working closely with commercial and recreational fishermen, we have rebuilt numerous fish stocks and managed to create some of the most sustainably managed fisheries in the world.


9.7 billion pounds of seafood

In 2015, U.S. commercial fishermen landed 9.7 billion pounds of seafood, valued at $5.2 billion.

41 stocks rebuilt since 2000

NOAA Fisheries tracks 473 fish stocks managed under 46 fishery management plans

6 billion pounds of seafood landed/valued at $1.8 billion in Alaska

In 2015, Alaska led all states in both volume (6.0 billion pounds) and value of landings ($1.8 billion). In addition to Alaska, the top states for volume or landings include Louisiana, Washington, Virginia, Maine, Massachusetts, and Mississippi.

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Magnuson-Stevens Act

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act is the primary law governing marine fisheries management in U.S. federal waters. Key objectives of the Act are to prevent overfishing, rebuild overfished stocks, increase long-term economic and social benefits, and ensure a safe and sustainable supply of seafood.

Learn more about the Magnuson-Stevens Act


Fishermen sometimes catch and discard animals they do not want, cannot sell, or are not allowed to keep—this is collectively known as bycatch. Unwanted catch is an ecological and economic issue, and we work with partners and fishermen to avoid bycatch or safely release unintended catch. 

Learn more about bycatch

Catch Shares

Catch shares dedicate a secure share of fish to individual fishermen, cooperatives, or fishing communities for their exclusive use. By allowing catch share holders to fish until they reach their quota, fishermen have an economic incentive to catch their allocation at the least cost by planning around the weather, markets, or other business considerations.

Learn more about catch shares


Fishing and seafood are vital to our economy and coastal communities. We use data collection, assessments, and research to evaluate the benefits and costs of how we manage fisheries, to help us prioritize management needs, and to facilitate policy that maximizes societal benefits from ocean and coastal resources.

Learn more about the data we collect

Foreign Trade

We maintain a foreign trade database dating back to 1975 that allows users to summarize U.S. foreign trade in fishery products. Users can summarize the kilos and dollar value by year, product, country, and type of trade. This data comes from the Foreign Trade Division of the U.S. Census Bureau, which is responsible for compiling information submitted by importers and exporters to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Learn more about foreign trade


NOAA Fisheries is responsible for managing marine fisheries within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone. Learn more about the sustainable management of our marine fisheries.

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