NOAA Report Finds US Fish Catches at a 17-Year High

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), recently released its 2011 Fisheries of the United States Report which found that commercial and recreational fish catches were at their highest levels since 1994. 

NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service is the lead federal agency responsible for the stewardship of the nation's offshore living marine resources and their habitat, and the report is compiled by the agency with significant assistance from coastal states and Regional Fishery Information Networks. A September 19th press release from NOAA on the report stated that U.S. commercial fishermen landed 10.1 billion pounds of fish and shellfish in 2011, valued at $5.3 billion, an increase over 2010 of 1.9 billion pounds and more than $784 million. In addition, over 10 million recreational saltwater anglers in the U.S. took an estimated 69 million marine fishing trips in 2011 and caught 345 million fish, releasing nearly 60 percent of them alive (with spotted sea trout remaining as the top catch). One of the attributable factors for the improving catch numbers was the Gulf of Mexico region, which improved dramatically following the environmental damage and shortened 2010 season due to the Deepwater Horizon incident. 

According to the report, Alaska led all states in volume with "landings" (fish catches) of 5.4 billion pounds; followed by Louisiana, 1.5 billion pounds; California, 515.6 million pounds; Virginia, 493.4 million pounds; and Washington, 487.8 million pounds. Alaska led all states in value of landings with $1.9 billion; followed by Massachusetts, $570.7 million; Maine, $426.5 million; Louisiana, $339.3 million; and Washington $319.8 million.