The United States is a recognized global leader in sustainable seafood. Marine fisheries in the U.S. are conducted under science-based fishery management plans developed by regional fishery management councils through an open, public process, and using the best scientific information available.
By law, U.S. seafood must be caught according to fishery management plans that consider social and economic outcomes for fishing communities; prevent overfishing; rebuild depleted stocks; minimize bycatch and interactions with protected species; and identify and conserve essential fish habitat.
- Alaska Seafood, which represents roughly 60% of the seafood exports from the United States, is further protected by the State of Alaska Constitution, which mandates sustainability.
Environmental Stewardship: A commitment to continuous improvement
- Accountability and transparency are key elements to how the United States manages fishery resources for sustainability.
- The federal agency responsible for managing U.S. fisheries is required to present a report to the United States Congress each year documenting the health and population status of fish and shellfish stocks.
- From recreational and small-scale tribal fishermen to large-scale vessels harvesting and processing millions of tons of fish, U.S. fisheries are scientifically monitored, regionally managed, and legally enforced under 10 national standards of sustainability.
- Responsible fisheries management and sustainable fishing practices take care not to harm the fish stocks, other marine plants and animals, or the environment.
- All U.S. seafood is managed for protection against overfishing, habitat damage and pollution.
- Since 2000, 37 U.S. federally managed fish stocks have been declared rebuilt. In 2013 alone, seven U.S. stocks were removed from the overfishing list, and four stocks were removed from the overfished list.
- No Alaska salmon or groundfish are classified as overfished.
- Alaska’s marine habitats are extremely clean, and Alaska’s seafood is pure and remarkably free of contamination by pesticides, petroleum derivatives, PCBs, metals and bacteria.
- The U.S. works individually with other countries that have an interest in the U.S. science-based management model, which uses the best available science to actively monitor and manage fisheries.
- Since 1963, abundance and distributions studies are conducted every spring and fall throughout the U.S. range of the American lobster. This time series provides fishery managers with detailed information concerning lobster abundance. This survey also constitutes the world’s longest and most comprehensive standardized measure of distribution and abundance trends in commercially harvested seafood.
Social Responsibility: A commitment to future generations
- The U.S. Seafood industry is committed to traceability. U.S. traceability guidelines are based on the GS1 System, the world’s most widely used supply chain standards system, and apply to all types of seafood products for human consumption.
In order to provide credible, third-party verification of sustainability to customers, all major Alaska fisheries are certified sustainable by the Alaska Responsible Fisheries Management Certification.
- Alaska/Pacific salmon, Alaska pollock, Pacific cod, U.S shrimp and catfish are all low-mercury fish and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that pregnant women consume these species two to three times a week. U.S. seafood is a healthy food choice, providing key nutrients and healthy protein for everyone from infants to adults. Seafood supplies the nutrients essential for strong bones, brain development, and healthy immune and cardiovascular systems.
- Canned Alaska salmon and its soft, edible bones is a rich source of calcium. It is a convenient source for people of all ages, including children who don’t eat dairy products but need high amounts of calcium to build strong bones.
- Fresh and frozen Alaska salmon is another alternative, offering high concentrations of Omega 3 oils that are proven to reduce the risk of coronary disease. Omega 3s have also proven to be beneficial in the treatment and prevention of many other diseases such as cancer, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, arthritis, asthma, certain kinds of mental illness, depression and lupus.
Economic Profitability: A commitment to long-term viability
- In 2013, U.S. commercial fishermen landed 9.9 billion pounds of seafood valued at $5.5 billion.
- In 2012, U.S. commercial and recreational saltwater fishing generated more than $199 billion in sales impacts, contributed $89 billion to gross domestic product, and supported 1.7 million jobs in the United States in marine fishing and across the broader economy.
- Buying U.S.-harvested fish and shellfish guarantees that your seafood meets rigorous state and federal standards and supports American jobs.
- American lobster (at US$162.4 million) moved up to second place as a leading U.S. seafood export to the EU in 2014 and scallops (at US$76.7 million) moved up to fifth place.
- In Alaska, thousands of families make their living from the resources of Alaska’s rugged 34,000 miles of sparsely populated coastline. In fact, fishing and seafood processing employ more people than any other industry in Alaska.
The 2013 Annual Report on the Status of U.S. Fisheries. U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA, 2013.
National Marine Fisheries Service. 2014. Fisheries Economics of the United States. U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA, 2012.
Alaska Seafood Sustainability in Plain English. Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, 2009.
American Lobster: A Sustainable U.S. Fishery. Food Export-Northeast, 2015.