The nation’s maritime economy grew at pace that nearly doubled the growth of the entire U.S. GDP in 2019.

GDP stands for gross domestic product and reflects the total market value of all finished goods and services in a specific time frame. It is used to estimate the size of an economy and its growth rate – a sort of comprehensive scorecard of a country’s economic health.

A first-ever report released this month by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce showed that the so-called “blue economy” grew by 4.2% and generated nearly $400 billion to the GDP.

Along with the oceans, the report includes the Great Lakes and looks at the contributions from shoreside businesses. Those businesses generated almost $666 billion in sales in 2019 and supported 2.4 million jobs.

Commercial fishing, including aquaculture, contributed $27 billion making it the sixth-largest segment of the “blue economy.”

The top marine economic activity in 2019 was tourism and recreation, including coastal trips and travel, and offshore boating and fishing. That accounted for 35.3% of gross output totaling $235 billion.

National defense and public administration accounted for just over 27% of the U.S. marine economy at $180 billion; offshore oil, gas and minerals contributed $76.4 billion, or 14%.

Marine transportation and warehousing accounted for $63.8 billion, or 9.6% of gross domestic output in 2019.

And here’s an interesting data point: nonrecreational ship and boat building contributed $31.2 billion, a 37.2% increase ($8.5 billion) from the previous year, making it one of the fastest-growing marine economy activities.

The blue economy report concluded that the nation’s waters are vital to America, saying that “It is nearly impossible to go a single day without eating, wearing, or using items that come from or through our ports and coastal communities.”