The most recent fisheries report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) gives some interesting insights into seafood trends using the most recent data from 2015 and 2016.
Prices are up slightly. Overall U.S. landings volume of seafood decreased 1.5% from 2015 to 2016 while the value of seafood landed increased 2.1%.
Non-food use – 22% of U.S. landings are used for non-seafood purposes (pet food, fish meal. We presume a significant portion of this is our nearby neighbor Omega Protein that dominates menhaden harvest.
We are growing more valuable seafood – U.S. aquaculture production is only 6% of U.S. seafood volume production, but accounts for 21% of U.S. seafood value production.
Consumption – Per capita seafood consumption in the U.S. is 14.9 lbs., a decrease of 0.6 lbs from 2015. Even though per capita consumption is less than other countries, the U.S. is the 2nd largest consumer of seafood globally, behind China due to our size and affluence.
World production – Most, 85 to 95% of the seafood we eat in the U.S. is imported. However this statistic may be distorted. A significant amount of this seafood is caught in U.S. waters, exported to other countries for processing and then reimported.
Blue claw crab – Hard blue crab landings decreased both in volume and price compared to 2015. The Middle Atlantic region increased almost 8% in 2016 compared to the prior year but the price decreased 8% over the prior year. (This is why the industry is suffering and why we got involved to te to help). Total U.S. landings of blue claw crab were 157.5 million pounds valued at $213.8 million—a decrease of almost 1.2 million pounds (1 percent) and $21 million (nearly 9 percent) compared with 2015. Louisiana landed more than 24 percent of the total U.S. landings followed by: Maryland, 22 percent; Virginia, more than 17 percent; and North Carolina, 16 percent. Hard blue crab landings in the South Atlantic, with almost 34.7 million pounds, decreased 15 percent; and the Gulf region, with almost 49.5 million pounds, decreased almost 1 percent. The Middle Atlantic region, with over 73.3 million pounds valued at nearly $114.8 million, had an increase of almost 5.4 million pounds (nearly 8 percent) compared with 2015. The average dockside price per pound of hard blue crabs was $1.36 in 2016 compared with $1.48 in 2015.
Oysters – Oysters have the highest volume for marine shellfish aquaculture production (35.2 million pounds, up 5.7%). Overall, oysters are our 9th most valuable type of seafood at $217 million. The landing increased 21% in 2016 over the prior year presumably mostly due to the ongoing improvement of the oyster aquaculture industry. Yet relatively little of the industry’s production comes from the Delaware Bay region; we are not mentioned in the report.
New Jersey – Our state ranks second in landings of mackerel, scallops and clams and first in quahog. The state’s seafood processors and dealers employ about 1,600 people, not counting growers and harvesters.