Alaska is the nation’s super power when it comes to seafood.

Last year, American fishermen landed just shy of 10 billion pounds of fish and shellfish, valued at $5.4 billion, both up slightly. Alaska accounted for 61 percent of total landings (6 billion pounds) and 33 percent of the value ($1.8 billion).

That’s according to the 2017 Fisheries of the US report revealed yesterday by NOAA Fisheries.  Ned Cyr is Science and Technology director.

The Alaska port of Dutch Harbor led the nation with the highest amount of seafood landings – 769 million pounds valued at $173 million with much of that made up with Alaska pollock – for the 21st year in a row. New Bedford, MA had the highest value catch for the 18th year in a row – 11 million pounds valued at $389 million with 80% coming from the highly lucrative sea scallop fishery.”

The seafood industry’s contribution to the nation increased slightly, according to an accompanying economic report for 2016.

“Excluding seafood imports, U.S. commercial fisheries generated $53 billion in sales, supported 711,000 jobs and added 28 billion to the nation’s GDP, all up slightly by 2 percent in 2015.”

The Aleutian Islands ranked second for seafood landings thanks to Trident’s plant at Akutan, the nation’s largest seafood processing facility.  Kodiak bumped up a notch to third place. The Alaska Peninsula ranked 7th and Naknek came in at number 9.

Alaska ports rounding out the top 20 were Cordova, Sitka, Ketchikan and Petersburg.

The report also highlights the growing role for aquaculture in the domestic seafood industry.  US marine and fresh water aquaculture was valued at $1.5 billion in 2016, equal to about 21 percent of the value of the nation’s combined seafood production, with oysters, clams and salmon generating the highest value.

Cyr said  the US still imports most of its seafood and stressed the nation’s intent to turn that tide.

“The US imported 5.9 billion pounds of seafood, up by around 1.6%, with import value of $21.5 billion, an increase of 10.4%. Shrimp, salmon and tuna continue to top the list of imports for 2017, similar to the previous year. …The Dept. of Commerce and NOAA are committed to addressing the US seafood trade deficit through regulatory streamlining, increasing aquaculture production and creating a better, fairer trading system for all Americans.”

In other highlights:

Alaska pollock accounted for 28% of all fish landed in the U.S. and 17% of the value.

Alaska accounted for nearly 98 percent of the nation’s salmon landings.

The average dock price paid to U.S. fishermen last year across the board held at 55 cents per pound.

And Americans ate more seafood last year, reversing a declining trend for many years. Ned Cyr –

 “Seafood consumption is up quite a bit with the average American eating 16 pounds of fish and shellfish in 2017 up a significant 1.1 pounds since 2016.”  

The Fisheries of the U.S. report is user friendly and includes recreational fishing, aquaculture, trade and colorful charts.