If you somehow missed the headlines, landings data in NOAA’s recently released Fisheries of the United States 2015 reminds us once again of the vital role lobsters and scallops play – not just in this region – but in the overall health and vitality of the nation’s entire extended commercial fishing community.
While Dutch Harbor, Alaska was the nation’s top volume port last year, New Bedford retained its rank as America’s top value fishing port – for the 16th year in a row.
With landings of 124 million pounds (largely scallops) valued at $322 million, New Bedford easily surpassed the $218 million value of Dutch Harbor’s 787 million pounds of landings.
Though not a record, New Bedford’s 2015 catch value reflects the continued rebound of a sea scallop industry that nearly collapsed in the late 80s.
It is a successful, well-managed fishery that supports continued capital reinvestment. The positive economic trickle-down can be felt throughout the region, and beyond.
Lobster landings in 2015, according to NOAA, were 145.9 million pounds with a value of $617.2 million.
Maine led the nation in lobster landings: 121.7 million pounds valued at $498.4 million.
The economic ripple effect from this fishery is, of course, being felt in homes and businesses all up and down the coast and in boat shops throughout the region.
Yes, there are definitely still those in our fishing family that are hurting this holiday season. Frankly, for many in the groundfish fleet, it is hard to even remain hopeful for better times.
And it is scary, and probably unwise, to be so dependent on just two fisheries in a business that lives and dies by inevitable cycles.
But that said, those two fisheries – lobsters and scallops – are providing many of us with the benefits of relative prosperity, for however long it lasts.
That, we believe, is cause to be thankful.
Happy Holidays from the CFN crew. /cfn/
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