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Fishing’s Impacts Ripple across the Broader Economy

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1.7 million jobs supported by U.S. commercial and recreational fishing industries in 2012

Guest blog post by Eileen Sobeck, NOAA’s Assistant Administrator for Fisheries

Fishing is big business in the United States. From commercial fisheries to recreational and charter boat business owners, fishing contributes to the United States’ economy and supports jobs. According to new reports issued today by NOAA Fisheries, we continue to see positive economic impacts from commercial and recreational U.S. fisheries as well as progress in rebuilding our nation’s fish stocks.

Between 2011 and 2012 alone, U.S. commercial and recreational saltwater fishing generated more than $199 billion in sales impacts, contributed $89 billion to gross domestic product, and supported 1.7 million jobs.

Breaking down the numbers a little more, the value chain of the commercial fishing industry—harvesters, processors, dealers, wholesalers, and retailers—generated $141 billion in sales, $39 billion in income and supported 1.3 million jobs in 2012.

The recreational fishing sector generated $58 billion in sales, $19 billion in income, and supported 381,000 jobs in 2012.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. The United States is a world leader in responsibly managed fisheries, and there’s no doubt that our approach to management is directly tied to the positive economic impacts across the broader U.S. economy in the last few years as we see in the Fisheries Economics of the U.S. 2012 report.

In 2010, we turned the corner on ending overfishing and turned our attention to rebuilding fish stocks, working in partnership with regional fishery management councils, states, tribes, fishermen, and local fishing communities that rely on those stocks. The recent report Status of U.S. Fisheries 2013 highlights the continued progress that NOAA Fisheries and our partners and stakeholders have made to end overfishing and rebuild fish stocks. Overall, the percent of assessed stocks that are harvested at sustainable levels continues to increase. And our efforts are paying off; since 2000, 34 fish stocks have been rebuilt. This positive outcome supports commercial fishermen and fishing communities and provides Americans with a local source of healthy food. Recreational fishing is an important social activity for individuals and families and is a critical economic contributor to local communities and regional economies.

While in some instances, sustainable management of fisheries requires sacrifice on the part of both commercial and recreational fishermen, making those sacrifices today helps enhance economic opportunities and protect natural resources for future generations.

To continue the progress we’ve made and continue economic growth within the fishing industry, we must continue working together to keep marine environments healthy, fish populations thriving, and our fishing industry on the job.

Read more about how sustainable management of fisheries can benefit the U.S. economy.

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