Fishing down 10% in first pandemic year | National

PATRICK WHITTLE Associated Press

PORTLAND, Maine — The U.S. commercial fishing industry fell 10% in catch volume and 15% in value in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, federal regulators said.

Fish transport in 2020 was 8.4 billion pounds, while the value of that catch was $4.8 billion, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials said. The early months of the pandemic posed many challenges for the U.S. fishing industry, which remained economically viable despite the difficult year, NOAA officials said last week.

“It was fishing closures, boats not going out because of COVID, border closures because of COVID, lots of disruptions in the flow of goods and services,” said Michael Liddel, chief executive officer. commercial fisheries statistics branch of NOAA.

NOAA made the announcement when releasing its “Status of the Stocks” report, which provides details on the health of the nation’s commercial fishing industry.

The report says there were 51 fish stocks on the federal government’s “overfishing list” in 2021. This list includes stocks that have been depleted by overfishing, and the number has increased by two from the previous year. ‘last year.

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Bering Sea snow crabs were among the stocks added to the overfished list. The Alaska-based snow crab fishery is one of the most valuable in the country and was worth more than $100 million from the docks in 2020. Climatic factors appear to be playing a role in the decline of snow crabs from the Bering Sea.

The stock could fall victim to disease, predation and movement in search of cooler waters, said Kelly Denit, director of NOAA’s Office of Sustainable Fisheries.

“This abundance has dropped by more than 50% in the past two years, and this stock is now overfished,” Denit said.

NOAA has also removed a few fish stocks from its overfished and overfished lists. They included tilefish from the southern Atlantic coast and yellowfin tuna from the eastern Pacific Ocean.

Some of the most important seafood species were again New England staples, like lobster, a fishery rooted in Maine, and sea scallops, many of which arrive at Massachusetts docks. Other high value seafood included crab, salmon and shrimp species.

NOAA said 8% of stocks with known status are subject to overfishing. This means that nearly 300 fish stocks are not.

The high number of sustainable fish stocks shows that regulators and industry have been able to “respond to the challenge of COVID-19 while ensuring the sustainability and economic stability of our country’s fisheries,” said the acting deputy secretary of NOAA for Oceans and Atmosphere, Janet Coit.