An eagle’s eye view of U.S. commercial fisheries production and trade

The U.S. government in October released the latest edition of its annual statistical yearbook on commercial fisheries, Fisheries of the United States 2015. The annual report is the latest in a series going back many decades, and presents statistics on fish and shellfish species landings, production of leading seafood products, production of aquaculture and industrial products, U.S. exports and imports, and national per-capita consumption of major fisheries products. In addition, the report contains information on global production, trade, and consumption.

Landings were up in volume, down in value…

Highlights of the report for 2015 include U.S. fishermen’s total landings in U.S. ports of all species (edible and industrial) of 9.7 billion pounds (4.4 million metric tonnes), valued at $5.2 billion. This was an increase in volume of 2.4 percent and a decrease in value of 4.5 percent over 2014, and a general continuation of stable trends seen in recent years for U.S. fisheries. Finfish made up 88 percent of total landings volume but only 46 percent of value. In addition, landings by U.S. fishermen in foreign ports (directly or via delivery to offshore processing ships; includes landings in Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories) totaled 548 million pounds (248,000 metric tonnes) valued at $284 million.

Chief among the species harvested by U.S. fishermen are Alaska pollock, menhaden, and Pacific salmon (which together made up 61 percent of total volume) and lobsters, crabs, shrimp and salmon (which together accounted for 44 percent of total value).  


… while aquaculture production was down

U.S. aquaculture data are lagged a year. In 2014, total aquaculture production reached 608 million pounds, valued at $1.3 billion, a decrease in both volume (-2.4%) and value (under -1%) in value from the previous year. The leading finfish in this sector is Atlantic salmon (41.3 million pounds, worth $76.2 million), while the most important shellfish is oysters (33.3 million pounds, worth $169 million). Other important species in U.S. aquaculture are catfish, crawfish, and clams.

In addition to commercial harvests and aquaculture production, a share of total U.S. supply is provided by recreational anglers. In 2015, an estimated 351 million fish were harvested during 61 million fishing trips. Of this total, an estimated 151 million fish (188 million pounds) were kept (or discarded dead) by anglers, the rest were released alive.


A vast array of seafood products comes from the U.S. industry

Processed production (edible and nonedible products) in 2015 was $10.2 billion, down by 9.5% from 2014. Of this, edible fish products totaled $9.3 billion, down by 11% from 2014. The principal products are fresh or frozen fillets and steaks (including blocks), which totaled 725 million pounds, valued at $1.8 billion. Alaska pollock, tuna, salmon and tilapia are among the leading species. Fish sticks and portions added an additional 206 million pounds, valued at $360 million. Breaded shrimp production reached 107 million pounds, valued at $376 million.

In the canned sector, total output reached 879 million pounds, valued at $1.42 billion. Of this, canned (and pouched) tuna totaled 400 million pounds, valued at $773 million, followed by salmon, totaling 168 million pounds, valued at $356 million. Canned clams (in whole, chowder, minced and other forms) totaled 120 million pounds, valued at $146 million. In the industrial fishery products sector, output of fish meal totaled 610 million pounds, valued at $396 million. Production of fish oil reached 140 million pounds, valued at $97 million. Other products, such as agar-agar, oyster shell products, animal feeds, and kelp products added another $205 million.

The U.S. trade deficit in seafood products continues

The U.S. has long been a net importer of fishery products. Total imports in 2015 (edible and industrial) reached $34.3 billion, down by 4% from a year earlier. Exports in 2015 totaled $28.4 billion, down by 5% from 2014.

U.S. imports of edible fishery products totaled $18.8 billion, down by 7.1% from the previous year. Fresh and frozen products make up the vast majority of U.S. imports, and include tropical shrimp, salmon (including re-imports of foreign-processed U.S. landed fish), and tuna, among a wide array of other products. The leading sources of U.S. imports are Canada, China, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Chile (75.1% of the total). The EU (mainly the UK, Spain and Germany) supplied 2.5% of total U.S. imports.

U.S. exports of edible fishery products totalled $3.1 billion, down by 7.7% from 2014. As with imports, fresh and frozen products make up the bulk of U.S. exports. Important products include fresh and frozen salmon, surimi, live and frozen lobsters, canned salmon, and roe, among many other fishery products. The single largest market for U.S. exports is the EU (mainly the Netherlands, Germany, the UK, and France), accounting for 21.4% of total U.S. exports. Other leading export markets are Canada, China, Japan, and India.


Frozen shrimp is America’s most favorite product

Americans consumed nearly 5 billion pounds of seafood in 2015, making the U.S. the second leading consumer nation behind China. On a per capita basis, consumers ate 15.5 pounds of fish and shellfish, up by 0.9 pounds from a year earlier. The most popular product is shrimp, followed by tuna and salmon.

Also included in the yearbook is information on sustainable fisheries and the state of U.S. resources. This yearbook and summary factsheets for the entire U.S. fisheries industry are available at:

Roger Corey, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.