October is National Seafood Month – a distinction proclaimed by Congress over 30 years ago to recognize one of our nation’s oldest industries.

Government figures show that nationwide, the seafood industry puts over 250,000 people to work and contributes $60 billion to the U.S. economy each year.

Pacific salmon, sea scallops, shrimp and lobster contributed the most to total U.S. revenues. For poundage, Alaska pollock, menhaden and Pacific salmon accounted for more than half of all US fish landed.

Alaska deserves special merit during Seafood Month, as it produces more than 60% of our nation’s seafood – more than all the other U.S. states combined.

The seafood industry is Alaska’s number one private employer, and Alaska’s seafood industry ranks second only to Big Oil for the tax dollars it pumps into state coffers.

Americans eat 16 pounds of seafood per person each year.  That compares to more than 108 pounds of red meat and nearly 73 pounds of poultry.

America’s seafood favorites have remained largely the same. The top five are shrimp, salmon, canned tuna, pollock and tilapia.

America’s seafood appetite is being fed mostly by foreign imports– more than 85 percent of all fish and shellfish eaten in the U.S. comes from other countries.

Speaking of other countries — that 16 pounds of seafood that Americans eat pales when compared to other parts of the world.

The Japanese, for example, eat 146 pounds of seafood per person each year. U.N. figures show that it is 186 pounds in Greenland and more than 200 pounds per person in Iceland.

The country with the lowest seafood consumption is Afghanistan at zero.

And where in the world is the most seafood eaten?

The South Pacific islands of Tokelau where each person eats more than 440 pounds of seafood every year.

In October and every month, celebrate seafood in your community!