New England Fisheries

NOAA Fisheries releases 2015 “U.S. Fisheries Yearbook”

Fishing boats in New Bedford, MA.

Yesterday, NOAA Fisheries released its annual Fisheries of the United States report for 2015, which the agency refers to as the “yearbook of fishery statistics for the United States.” It provides information on commercial and recreational fisheries as well as aquaculture production and seafood consumption.

The report shows that 2015 commercial fishery landings were similar to recent years. Commercial fishermen landed 9.7 billion pounds of seafood, valued at $5.2 billion.

New England Highlights

In New England, Maine and Massachusetts ranked number two and three, respectively, for top states by value of landings, even though they were not in the top five for volume. And for the 16th consecutive year, New Bedford, MA was ranked the most valuable port in the country, with 124 million pounds of landed fish valued at $322 million. New Bedford’s reliance on sea scallops, a highly lucrative fishery, can account for much of this value. According to the report, sea scallops comprise 76 percent of New Bedford landings.

This report, however, only shows one slice of the U.S. fisheries pie.  Even though some New England states may be ranked as the most valuable in terms of fish landings, some of our fisheries remain the worst in the country. It is ever more important to use the best available science in fishery management decisions, using an ecosystem-based approach. Also, we need to create viable markets for underutilized fish species in order to reduce bycatch and take pressure off of other stocks.

As NOAA Fisheries says in its fact sheet: “These statistics provide valuable insights, but to fully understand the overall condition of our fisheries, they must be looked at in combination with other biological, social, and economic factors of ecosystems and ocean health.”

The agency will soon release an economics report that will dive deeper into these numbers and further analyze their significance and impact.

You can view the full report here.


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