NOAA releases 2014 fisheries report

In a report released Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says in 2014 commercial fishermen landed about 9.5 billion pounds of seafood in the United States, including 5.7 billion pounds here in Alaska.

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NOAA’s 2014 annual fisheries report is about 150 pages of fish numbers and data for the entire country. Scattered throughout are a couple of interesting facts.

For one? Imports and exports of seafood increased this year.

America imported almost $36 billion worth of fish products, an increase of about 2.5 billion. NOAA Fisheries Chief Scientist Richard Merrick said America still imports a lot of fish.

“Our country imports, still, most of its seafood,” Merrick said. “And we love the shrimp, salmon and tuna that come from oversees, and these continue to be our top imports.”

America exported $30 billion worth of seafood last year, about $853 million more than in 2013.

Merrick said Americans also ate a little more fish last year.

“Our per capita consumption increased slightly, with each of us eating an average of 14.6 pounds of seafood last year.”

In terms of total consumption, that’s all the seafood eaten across the country, statistician Alan Louther says America is now number two.

“We’ve historically been third,” Louther said. “It’s China, Japan and the United States. The significance of that is just really that we’ve surpassed Japan.”

The report also confirms what most Alaskans in coastal communities witness every day: there’s a lot of seafood moving across our docks.

Dutch Harbor, Kodiak and the other Aleutian Islands ports combined took the number one, two and three spots in terms of the quantity of seafood moving across the docks in 2014. New Bedford, Massachusetts had the largest value of fish at its port, followed by Dutch and Kodiak.

And Naknek’s Port of Bristol Bay moved up in the rankings for 2014. NOAA says $135 million dollars worth of seafood crossed the docks, making it the number five port in the country for value. In terms of quantity, it was the number ten port in the nation, with 133 million pounds landed there last year.

All other Bristol Bay ports– including Dillingham– combined for the number 10 slot in terms of value, with an estimated $82 million worth of fish moving across the docks here.

Some other fun numbers?

Crab is the nation’s priciest catch: it was worth about $685.7 million last year. Salmon was number four, worth $616,658 million.

And at 3.1 billion pounds, pollock is the nation’s number one catch. Salmon, number five, 720 million pounds.

The report also looks at what happens to America’s catch. Processed fishery products, including imports, were worth $2 billion less last year than in 2013.

Processors canned about 44 million pounds of red last year, about 10 million pounds more than in 2013. Consumption, however, was down. And, processors made fewer salmon steaks and fillets, and less breaded shrimp, but more cod fillets, and more fish sticks.