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A Message from Sam Rauch, Head of NOAA Fisheries

It's Time for Our Annual Statistical Yearbook for U.S. Fisheries 
October 30, 2013

I’m proud to announce that the NOAA Fisheries’ annual yearbook,  
Fisheries of the U.S., 2012 is now available. Continuing our rich scientific tradition, this is a statistical yearbook filled with facts and figures about our domestic fisheries.

You probably noticed our yearbook is for the 2012 fishing year. That’s because a handful of dedicated NOAA Fisheries scientists gather information from a variety of data collection efforts coordinated through NOAA and our partners. This means it takes some time to get the information right, but it’s worth it to have all these important statistics in one single document.

In the latest edition, you’ll see Fisheries of the U.S., 2012 has some good news to share.

The landings and value of commercial U.S. wild caught fish continue to remain high. Coming in at 9.6 billion pounds of seafood valued at $5.1 billion, the 2012 figures are above the average of the preceding decade (9.2 billion pounds valued at $4.1 billion). 

Consumers welcomed this availability of sustainable seafood. In 2012, Americans consumed 4.5 billion pounds. Although per capita consumption decreased, the U.S. ranks third as the largest consumer of seafood in the world after China and Japan.

Recreational catch also increased in 2012. More than 9 million anglers made over 70 million trips and caught 380 million fish, 63% of which were released.

Consistently high values and landings is good news for fishermen, fishing communities, and for Americans who want sustainable, healthy U.S. seafood. It’s further indication that we’re turning the corner, rebuilding fisheries, and making a difference for the people who live and work in our nation’s coastal communities.

It’s worth taking a moment to talk about the statistical side of our statistical 
yearbook. We have teams of scientists around the country collecting and analyzing fisheries data. We’re constantly challenging ourselves to find better ways to produce reliable, accurate, and timely statistics because we know peoples’ lives and livelihoods rely on the quality of information we provide.

An important note for the 2012 version and future updates relates to calculating the percent of edible seafood consumption that is made up of imports.  Using current models, the 2012 figure would be 94%. This percentage has been rising in recent years reflecting the increase in imported seafood and there is concern that current models may overestimate the percentage. NOAA Fisheries plans to investigate better ways to report consumption and indicate our Nation’s dependence on imported seafood. 

I encourage you to page through the report. The report along with other helpful resources is available at In addition to being highlighted on the NOAA Fisheries homepage, you may also catch mention of this on our Facebook and Twitter accounts.


Samuel D. Rauch III
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs,
performing the functions and duties of the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries