The annual Fisheries of the United States report just released by NOAA includes 2016 statistics on commercial fisheries, with lobster ranking as the highest value commercial species.

U.S. commercial fishermen landed 9.6 billion pounds of seafood in 2016 (down 1.5 percent from 2015) valued at $5.3 billion (up 2.1 percent from 2015). The highest value commercial species were lobster ($723 million total, which includes $666.7 million in American lobster and $55.9 million in spiny lobster), crabs ($704 million), scallops ($488 million), shrimp ($483 million), salmon ($420 million), and Alaska walleye pollock ($417 million). 

By volume, the nation’s largest commercial fishery remains Alaska walleye pollock, which showed near record landings of 3.4 billion pounds (up 3 percent from 2015), representing 35 percent of total U.S. commercial and recreational seafood landings.

In 2016, the U.S. imported 5.8 billion pounds of seafood (up 1 percent compared to 2015) worth $19.5 billion (up 3.5 percent). A significant portion of that imported seafood is caught by American fishermen, exported overseas for processing, and then reimported to the United States. Shrimp and salmon are two of the top three imported species and much of that is farm-raised. The U.S. ranks 16th in total aquaculture production around the world — far behind China, Indonesia and India. In 2015, 1.4 billion pounds of aquaculture production was reported in the U.S.

The average American ate 14.9 pounds of fish and shellfish in 2016, a decrease from 15.5 pounds the year before. U.S. dietary guidelines recommend 8 to 12 ounces of a variety of seafood species per week, or 26 to 39 pounds per person per year.

For the 17th year in a row, New Bedford, Massachusetts, claimed the highest value catch from one port — 107 million pounds, valued at $327 million. Sea scallops accounted for 77 percent of that value.

U.S. consumers spent an estimated $63.4 billion on fishery products at restaurants and other food service establishments, and $29.8 billion in retail sales for home consumption.

Saltwater recreational fishing remains one of America’s favorite pastimes — with 9.6 million anglers making nearly 63 million trips in 2016, catching more than 371 million fish (61 percent of which are released alive). By weight, striped bass remains the top harvested catch among saltwater fishermen, followed by dolphinfish, bluefish, yellowfin tuna, spotted seatrout, and summer flounder.

Maine Second Only to Alaska in Value of Landings —

Alaska led all states in volume with landings of 5.6 billion pounds, followed by Louisiana, 1.2 billion pounds; Washington, 551.9 million pounds; Virginia, 363.3 million pounds; and Mississippi, 304.0 million pounds.

Alaska led all states in value of landings with $1.6 billion, followed by Maine, $633.6 million; Massachusetts, $552.2 million; Louisiana, $407.2 million; and Washington, $321.0 million.

Dutch Harbor, Alaska, was the leading U.S. port in quantity of commercial fishery landings, followed by Aleutian Islands, Alaska; Empire-Venice, Louisiana; Kodiak, Alaska; and Reedville, Virginia.

Maine again leads in lobster landings — for the 35th year in a row

American lobster landings were almost 158.6 million pounds, valued at $666.7 million — an increase of 12.6 million pounds (9 percent) and $49.5 million (8 percent) compared with 2015. Maine led in lobster landings for the 35th consecutive year with 132 million pounds, valued at nearly $537.9 million — an increase of 10.2 million pounds (8 percent) compared with 2015. Massachusetts, the second leading producer, had landings of almost 17.7 million pounds, valued at $82 million — an increase of more than 1.2 million pounds (8 percent) compared with 2015. 

Together, Maine and Massachusetts produced more than 94 percent of the total national landings.