A first ever analysis has measured the economic force of our nation’s marine economy, including contributions from commercial fishing, shipbuilding, seaports, beachfront hotels and other activities dependent on the oceans.

A team from NOAA, the Dept. of Commerce and the Bureau of Economic Analysis looked at 10 business sectors that work on the nation’s oceans, coasts and Great Lakes between the years 2014 and 2018.

Their report shows that the marine-related gross domestic product grew 5.8% from 2017 to 2018, and outpaced growth of the overall national economy over the five years of the study.   GDP is the sum of the market values, or prices, of all final goods and services produced in an economy during a period of time. GDP is a number that expresses the worth of the output of a country in local currency.

The “ocean economy” contributed nearly $373 billion to the nation’s GDP in 2018 and “blue” businesses supported 2.3 million jobs.

In announcing the report this week, NOAA said:  “The statistics clarify just how dependent America is on our waters,” adding, “It is nearly impossible for most Americans to go a single day without eating, wearing or using products that come from or through our coastal communities.”

Tourism and recreation, including sport fishing, topped the list of GDP contributors at $143 billion, followed distantly by national defense and offshore minerals.

Commercial fishing and aquaculture ranked fifth at $13 billion to the GDP. Power generation, and research and education contributed a paltry $4 billion and $3 billion, respectively.

Marine industries “poised for growth” include offshore wind energy, marine robotics, aquaculture and ocean pharmaceuticals, NOAA said.

Now, for the first time, the US has ocean data that can be compared with statistics on other U.S. industries and with the ocean economies of other nations, a BEA spokesperson said, adding that  “businesses, policymakers, and coastal communities can use the data as a compass as they chart the way forward.”

The current report ranks sectors making the largest contributions to the nation’s gross domestic product:

• Tourism and recreation, including recreational fishing ($143 billion)

• National defense and public administration ($124 billion)             

 • Offshore minerals ($49 billion)• Transportation and warehousing ($25 billion)                                                                                          

• Living resources, including commercial fishing and aquaculture ($13 billion)

• Ship and boat building ($9 billion)

• Power generation ($4 billion)

• Research and education ($3 billion)

• Construction ($2.5 billion)

• Professional and technical services ($31 million)

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