NOAA: 2015 sees 5 million lbs of commercial fish landed in territory

fili@samoanews.com

More than 5 million pounds of commercial fish landing in American Samoa — home to two tuna canneries and several fishing vessels — was recorded for 2015, according to a new fishery report by the federal government.

American Samoa is included in the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries of the United States 2015 Report released yesterday morning.

During a national conference call yesterday morning with reporters, NOAA fishery chief scientist Dr. Richard Merrick said the annual report is a “snap shot” of key national fishery statistics, including data, volume and value of seafood harvesting and other issues for 2015.

Merrick and other NOAA officials, who participated in the conference call, also provided key findings for 2015, and they also announced that another report would be released soon, providing economic issues dealing with fisheries in the US.

U.S LANDINGS

The report states commercial landings (edible and industrial) by U.S. fishermen at ports in the 50 states were 9.7 billion pounds valued at $5.2 billion in 2015—an increase of 232 million pounds (up 2.4%) and a decrease of $244 million (down 4.5%) compared with 2014.

Additionally, commercial landings by U.S. fishermen ports outside the 50 states provided an additional 547.5 million pounds (248,363 metric tons) valued at $284 million. This was a decrease of 15 percent, or 96 million pounds (43,586 metric tons) in quantity and a decrease of $154 million (35%) in value compared with 2014.

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 5.01 million pounds, valued at $5.51 million. The highest fish species landing for American Samoa is albacore at 3.63 million pounds, valued at $4.47 million, according to the report, which shows that total “tuna” - e.g. albacore, big eye, skipjack, yellow fin and other — landing at 4.74 million pounds valued at $5.07 million.

In the year 2014, for comparison, total landing for American Samoa was nearly 4.9 million pounds value at $5.47 million. Total tuna landing at 4.62 million pounds are value at $5.05 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 were 604.2 million pounds valued at $420.3 million — a decrease of 98.1 million pounds (14%) and $152.8 million (27%) compared with 2014.

Additionally, the average ex-vessel price per pound of all species of tuna in 2015 was 70 cents compared with 82 cents in 2014.

While skipjack landings were the highest for 2015, at almost 487.7 million pounds, the report shows this is a decrease of 89 million pounds compared to 2014.

CANNERY FISHERY PRODUCTS

The pack of canned fishery products in the 50 states, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico was 878.5 million pounds valued at $1.42 billion — an increase in volume of 145.6 million pounds and $47 million dollars compared to 2014, the report states.

Additionally, the 2015 pack included 713.7 million pounds with a value of $1.3 billion for human consumption and 164.7 million pounds valued at $121.7 million for bait and animal food.

OTHER INFORMATION

In a national news release, NOAA says the report shows continued stability, sustainability in U.S. fisheries while some declines in West Coast stocks. Across the nation, U.S. fishermen landed 9.7 billion pounds of fish and shellfish valued at $5.2 billion, a volume and value similar to recent years. The highest value U.S. commercial species were lobster at $679.2 million.

It also says 2015 was another above-average year for fishing and seafood consumption, with the average American adding nearly an extra pound of seafood to their diet.

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