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A Message from Sam Rauch, Head of NOAA Fisheries

Sustainable Seafood is a Goal We Can Rally Around
March 2012

This month at NOAA Fisheries, we are focusing our outreach efforts on how important it is to support sustainable seafood and continue the Magnuson-driven rebuilding efforts for our commercial and recreational fisheries.

To kick off the month, we re-launched one of our most successful outreach programs to date: the FishWatch website. U.S. fisheries are among the most sustainably managed in the world, and our science and management efforts have a prominent place on the redesigned site. FishWatch also highlights videos, 85 wild and farmed species, and easy-to-understand science-based facts to help consumers, chefs, and anyone interested in seafood understand seafood safety and sustainability.

We found a welcoming and engaged audience for the launch of the FishWatch site at the annual International Boston Seafood Show earlier this month. There were almost 1,000 exhibitors and vendors at the show, which demonstrates that a wide variety of U.S. wild-harvest fishing, recreational fishing, aquaculture, and the businesses associated with the seafood supply chain depend on sustainable fisheries and help drive the U.S. economy.

For example, in 2010, the commercial U.S. catch was valued at $4.5 billion and generated $183 billion in sales. Jobs supported by commercial fishing increased by 16 percent from 1 million in 2009 to 1.2 million in 2010. Aquaculture is a $1 billion business in the United States. Overall, the U.S. seafood industry generates $36 billion in income and contributes $48 billion to our nation’s gross national product. 

Those anglers who bring home their catch benefit coastal economies in still more ways. The nation’s 12 million recreational anglers form an economic engine that contributes more than $73 billion in sales and value-added impacts, while supporting 327,000 jobs.

We want these numbers to continue to grow. Many U.S. fisheries are now rebuilding to levels not seen in our lifetimes. Guided by Congress and working with the regional fishery management councils, we’ve put in place catch limits and accountability measures that end overfishing, move us farther down the path toward sustainability, and help us maintain our momentum. If all stocks were rebuilt and harvested at their maximum sustainable yield, we could see commercial values increase as much as $2.2 billion, which would generate $31 billion in sales impacts and support 500,000 jobs across the broader economy.

We know recreational and commercial fishermen – and the communities they support – are making sacrifices to help U.S. fisheries rebuild. The difficult decisions made now will ensure that fishing can remain a healthy, sustainable business, and a source for food and enjoyment for millions of Americans. Along with the Councils, we will continue to implement innovative ways of managing fisheries to provide increased stability, efficiency, and opportunity.

Ending overfishing and rebuilding fish populations are steps in achieving sustainable fisheries, a goal that unites us all.

Have a great spring.

Samuel D. Rauch III
Acting Assistant Administrator for Fisheries