The value and pounds of fish and shellfish caught remain higher than the average for the previous ten years of 9.2 billion pounds and $4.1 billion, although this represents a small decrease from the high level of landings and value in 2011.
“Healthy, sustainable fish and shellfish stocks are incredibly important to our nation’s social and economic fabric,” said Sam Rauch, acting NOAA assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries.
“The high landings and value of seafood in 2012 support the three-decade long effort that has gone into ending overfishing in the US Thanks to our partners, the regional fishery management councils and especially US fishermen, we now have some of the most responsibly managed, sustainable fisheries in the world.”
Nearly 9.4 million recreational saltwater anglers in the United States took more than 70 million marine fishing trips in 2012 and caught almost 380 million fish, releasing 63 per cent alive. Spotted seatrout was the top catch for recreational anglers, with 42.6 million fish caught in 2012. Atlantic croaker, black sea bass, summer flounder and red drum were the other most common catches for saltwater anglers.
While the commercial and recreational trends remain high, aquaculture contributes only five percent of production. Washington and Maine lead the nation in marine finfish farming, primarily Atlantic salmon. Washington, Virginia and Louisiana lead in shellfish farming, primarily oysters.
The report also shows that the Alaska port of Dutch Harbor led the nation with the highest amount of fish landed – primarily walleye pollock – for the 16th consecutive year. Dutch Harbor fishers landed 752 million pounds, up from 706 million pounds in 2011.
For the 13th consecutive year, New Bedford, Mass., had the highest valued catch, due mostly to the highly valued sea scallop fishery. Sea scallops accounted for more than 80 per cent of the value of New Bedford landings.
The report also shows that the average American ate 14.4 pounds of fish and shellfish in 2012, a four percent drop from the 2011 figure of 15.0 pounds. Altogether, Americans consumed 4.5 billion pounds of seafood.