Commercial and recreational fisheries remain strong

fili@samoanews.com

Just over 4 million pounds of commercial fish landed in American Samoa was recorded for 2016, according to a new fishery report by the federal government. American Samoa is noted as currently home to one cannery and several fishing vessels.

American Samoa is included in the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 109-page Fisheries of the United States 2016 Report released Wednesday morning, which was also during a national conference call between NOAA officials and reporters.

Commercial and recreational fisheries remain a strong contributor to the United States economy, according to NOAA Fisheries, which noted that it will release later a detailed look at the economic impact of recreational and commercial fisheries on the US economy in the upcoming “Fisheries Economic of the United States” report.

The 2016 report shows among other things that that the average American ate 14.9 pounds of fish and shellfish last year, a decrease from 15.5 pounds in 2015. U.S. dietary guidelines recommend 8-12 ounces of a variety of seafood species per week, or 26 to 39 pounds per person per year.

U.S COMMERCIAL LANDINGS

Commercial landings (edible and industrial) by U.S. fishermen at ports in the 50 states were 9.6 billion pounds valued at $5.3 billion in 2016 — a decrease of 145.6 million pounds (down 1.5%) and an increase of $108.7 million (up 2.1%) compared with 2015.

The 2016 average ex-vessel price paid to fishermen was 55 cents per pound compared to 54 cents per pound in 2015.

Additionally, commercial landings by U.S. fishermen at ports outside the 50 states provided an additional 420.4 million pounds valued at $277 million. This was a decrease of 23 percent, or 128 million pounds in quantity and a decrease of $7.2 million (2.5%) in value compared with 2015.

Most of these landings consisted of tuna landed in American Samoa and other foreign ports, according to the report which also provides a section breaking down ‘Domestic Landings” for the US territories of American Samoa, Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands.

Overall landing for American Samoa totals over 4.16 million pounds, valued at over $4.52 million. The highest fish species landing for American Samoa is albacore at 3.05 million pounds, valued at $3.47 million, according to the report, which shows that total “tuna” - e.g. albacore, big eye, skipjack, yellow fin and other — landing at 3.90 million pounds valued at $4.06 million.

As reported last year by Samoa News, based on the 2015 fisheries report, in the year 2015 - for comparison - overall landing for American Samoa totals 5.01 million pounds, valued at $5.51 million. Total tuna landing was at 4.74 million pounds valued at $5.07 million.

TUNA LANDING

According to the report, landings of tuna by U.S. fishermen at ports in the United States, American Samoa, other U.S. territories, and foreign ports in 2016 were 474.5 million pounds valued at nearly $432.8 million—a decrease of almost 129.7 million pounds (more than 21 percent), but an increase of $12.5 million (3 percent) compared with 2015.

Additionally, average ex-vessel price per pound of all species of tuna in 2016 was 91 cents compared with 70 cents in 2015.

While skipjack landings were the highest for 2016, at 377.3 million pounds, the report shows this is a decrease of 121.4 million pounds compared to 2015. The average ex vessel price per pound was 66 cents in 2016 compared to 51 cents in 2015.

CANNERY FISHERY PRODUCTS

The pack of canned fishery products in the 50 states, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico was 865.5 million pounds valued at $1.2 billion—a decrease in volume of 137.8 million pounds and $286.5 million dollars compared to 2015.

It also says that the 2016 pack included 576.1 million pounds with a value of $1.0 billion for human consumption and 289.4 million pounds valued at $215.7 million for bait and animal food.

OTHER INFORMATION

In a national news release, NOAA says that 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). However, a significant portion of this imported seafood is caught by American fishermen, exported overseas for processing, and then reimported to the United States, it says.

NOAA points out that 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.

With the US importing billions of pounds of seafood annually, and with so much of that seafood foreign farm-raised, “the numbers in this report underscore the untapped potential of aquaculture here at home,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

“Expanding our nation’s aquaculture capacity presents an opportunity to reduce America’s reliance on imports while creating thousands of new jobs,” he said.

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