Economy: Commercial Fishing - a Cultural Tradition

The international trade in coastal and marine fisheries contributes $70 billion annually to our nation's economy. Understanding and managing the considerable pressures - both human and natural - on these valuable resources will ensure that the country's long-standing tradition of commercial fishing in our coastal communities is sustained.

$4 billion

Average annual value of all U.S. marine fisheries landings from 2008-2010.

Source: NMFS, 2011b


Due to high demand, percent of all shrimp consumed in the U.S. that are imported.

Source: NMFS, 2011d

1 million

Jobs associated with the U.S. commercial fishing industry yielding over $32 billion in income.

Source: NMFS, 2011c

2 billion

Average annual pounds of landings of Alaskan Pollock, the largest single species catch in the U.S. EEZ.

Source: NMFS, 2011b; NMFS 2011d

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Source: National Marine Fisheries Service, Office of Science and Technology

About this Topic

This topic presents data on the amount and value of commercial fish landings in the U.S. for the time period 1950 to 2010. The data, obtained from NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, are available for over 400 species of fish and shellfish. In 2010 the value of U.S. marine fisheries landings totaled 8 million pounds valued at about 4.5 billion dollars. Alaska ranked first in pounds and value of fish caught. Of all individual species fished for, sea scallops brought in the most revenue (455 million dollars). However, by aggregate groups of similar species, crabs brought in the highest dollar amount at 572 million dollars. Pollock was the largest catch by weight at two billion pounds. This topic includes three case studies: Reducing Bycatch - A Complex Challenge for Commercial Fisheries, and Pacific Salmon - Management Can Extend 500 Miles Inland, and Aquaculture - Much Potential, Many Challenges. In addition, Summer Flounder- A Fishery Management Success Story is also presented.