New Bedford Standard Times
October 31, 2013 12:00 AM
NEW BEDFORD — For the 13th consecutive year, New Bedford is first in the nation in the commercial value of fish landed here, NOAA Fisheries announced.
Dutch Harbor, Alaska, was the top port in terms of volume in 2012, but New Bedford's dollar value, $411 million, was nearly double that of Dutch Harbor's $214 million.
Eighty percent of New Bedford's catch is scallops; for Dutch Harbor it is wall-eyed pollock.
The dollar value in New Bedford represents an increase over 2011, when the catch totaled $369 million.
New Bedford's total volume in 2012 of 143 million pounds represents a sharp increase over 2011, when it was 117 million, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported.
Gloucester's fleet showed a slight increase in volume to 83 million pounds but a drop in value to $57 million, according to NOAA.
U.S. commercial fishermen landed 9.6 billion pounds of fish and shellfish in 2012, valued at $5.1 billion, according to Fisheries of the United States 2012, an annual report released by NOAA.
The value and pounds of fish and shellfish caught remain higher than the average for the previous 10 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, in the release. "The high landings and value of seafood in 2012 support the three-decade-long effort that has gone into ending overfishing in the U.S. Thanks to our partners, the regional fishery management councils and especially U.S. 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 percent 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 5 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 average American ate 14.4 pounds of fish and shellfish in 2012, a four percent drop from the 2011 figure of 15.0 pounds. All together, Americans consumed 4.5 billion pounds of seafood.