PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — America’s commercial fishing industry has fallen 10% in catch volume and 15% in value in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, federal officials said Thursday.
The 2020 fish catch was 8.4 billion pounds, while the value of that catch was $4.8 billion, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials said. The first few months of the pandemic presented numerous challenges for the US fishing industry, which has remained economically viable despite the difficult year, NOAA officials said.
“It was fisheries closures, boats not sailing due to COVID, border closures due to COVID, lots of disruption and the flow of goods and services,” said Michael Liddel, NOAA’s branch manager for commercial fisheries statistics.
NOAA made the announcement as it presented its Status of the Stocks report, which details the health of the country’s commercial fishing industry.
According to the report, 51 fish stocks were on the federal government’s “overfishing list” in 2021. That list includes stocks that have been depleted from overfishing, and the number was up two from the previous year.
Bering Sea snow crab was among stocks added to the overexploited list. Alaska’s snow crab fishery is one of the most valuable in the country and was worth more than $100 million at the docks in 2020. Climate factors appear to play a role in the decline of snow crabs in the Bering Sea.
The stock could fall prey to disease, predators and movement in search of colder waters, said Kelly Denit, director of NOAA’s Fisheries Office for Sustainable Fisheries.
“That amount has declined by more than 50% in the last two years and that stock is now overexploited,” Denit said.
NOAA has also removed some fish stocks from their overfishing and overfishing lists. These included the South Atlantic Coastal Bass and the Eastern Pacific Yellowfin Tuna.
Some of the most prized seafood species were once again New England staples, like lobster, a fishery anchored in Maine, and scallops, many of which make their way to the Massachusetts docks. Other quality seafood included crab, salmon and shrimp.
According to NOAA, 8% of stocks with known status are overfished. That means almost 300 fish stocks are not.
The large number of sustainable fish stocks shows that regulators and industry have been able to “manage the challenge of COVID-19 while ensuring the sustainability and economic stability of our nation’s fisheries,” said Janet Coit, NOAA’s acting assistant secretary for oceans and atmosphere.
(Copyright (c) 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed.)
https://whdh.com/news/us-fishing-haul-fell-10-during-first-pandemic-year/ US fish catch down 10% in first year of pandemic – Boston News, Weather, Sports