So … how often do you get into a conversation about the importance of your seafood industry? Maybe you are talking to a customer, a relative, an industry colleague, a non-seafood business owner, a management rep, a local official, a commercial developer … or maybe someone who feels that the commercial harvest and sale of wild-caught seafood is just not necessary. Sometimes such discussions end up being an informal debate on the economic and/or social values of commercial versus other uses of our finfish and shellfish stocks. And when that debate starts, you may wish you had some good “ammo” to help make your point.
Even without facts and figures … you certainly know the seafood industry is more than just catching and selling fish. You know it because you live it. But many don’t. You know, for example, that the seafood industry is part of the bedrock of Florida’s heritage. It is one of the state’s first industries. It is part of the cultural, social and historical fabric that holds many of Florida’s coastal communities together. It provides a high quality, wild-caught seafood to millions of consumers, who otherwise would not be able to eat fresh, local seafood. It contributes to the economy, as the catch moves from the deck … to the dock … to the processors … to the wholesale distributor … to the retailer … to the grocer … to the restaurant … and to the home table. All along the way jobs are provided … value is added (via processing and packaging) … incomes are generated … associated businesses are supported (by your purchases) … tax revenues are created … and people are fed. Yes!! The seafood industry is an important part of our community. You know this!!
But where can you find facts and figures to substantiate your point? Well, there are several good websites from which you can pull information. Some have the information readily available … while some require a bit of “noodling” on your part to get the information you may want. Below you will find a list of such websites … with a brief description of each. Becoming familiar with each will help you better prepare for and respond to those unexpected discussions about the importance of your seafood industry. To go to the each website … just touch on the respective “hotlink” below.
NATIONAL and FLORIDA STATE DESCRIPTIVE INFORMATION
Descriptive data for commercial and recreational sectors
The Office of Science and Technology provides access to the current and past annual reports for Fisheries of the United States and Imports & Exports of Fishery Products. Select the year you wish to examine by touching on the appropriate year in the table found on the webpage. You have two options for data. First … Fisheries of the United States provides a wide range of descriptive information about commercial landings, dockside value … by species, region, state and port. Detailed information is provided on world seafood production and foreign trade. Descriptive information on US seafood supply, processed products, seafood consumption, and other topics is provided. Scroll down through the report to find information of interest. Second … Imports & Exports of Fishery Products provides much more detailed information on the foreign trade of seafood within the US market on a species basis. This information is obtained from US Customs.
Another National Marine Fisheries website that provides access to a wide range of detailed statistics and data that describe the commercial seafood industry in the US. What sets this webpage apart is that it allows the user to download detailed landings and value data for the specific species of interest. The user refers to the list of topics on the right-hand side of the page, such as “Monthly Landings”, “Annual Landings”, “Landings by Gear”, etc … which takes the user to another page that allows the selection of an individual species, time period, harvest region, etc. This is very detailed information that will allow the user to hone down on specific values of interest.
NOAA Office of Science and Technology
NOAA Office of Science and Technology provides an overview of the social and economic characteristics of the industry on a national level. Both commercial and recreational data are provided, for comparison. Go to the website and notice the very informative maps that are provided. Then select the “Gulf of Mexico” or “South Atlantic” button to the right. This will take you to a prepared report regarding the region of interest. For Florida … you will find data specific to the West Coast and East Coast of Florida. Information about all sectors of the seafood industry is presented. A companion website provides a pdf version of the report entitle “Fisheries Economics of the United States: Economic and Sociocultural Status and Trends”. To find the report, Click Here. Access the report via this webpage and scroll down through the information provided to find the national or state-level information you seek.
FLORIDA DESCRIPTIVE INFORMATION
Florida landings and dockside value
The Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission allows access to the annual commercial landings volumes, prices, and value as reported by Trip Ticket submissions. You can find landings and dockside value by species, by county, by east/west coast, and for the entire state … on an annual and monthly basis. Simply select the year of interest, the species of interest, and how you would like the data presented … for the entire state, by county, by coast, by month. Then touch the button that creates a report. The report can then be re-run to fine tune as needed.
Florida Departement of Motor Vehicles
This Florida Department of Motor Vehicles site will allow you to access the numbers of registered commercial and recreational vessels by county and by length of vessel. Note that the commercial vessels includes vessels used in any commercial application, not only for commercial fishing. Likewise, the recreational vessels are not limited to only those used primarily for angling activities.
Florida Descriptive Measures
The Economic Impact of Saltwater Fishing in Florida page is maintained by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The website provides a brief summary of some useful statistics that describe the economic characteristics of both recreational and commercial fisheries.
ECONOMIC IMPACT ASSOCIATED WITH OCEAN-RELATED AND COASTAL INDUSTRIES
The National Ocean Economics Program (NOEP) is the main research arm of the Center for the Blue Economy at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. NOEP provides a wide range of economic and socioeconomic information available on changes and trends along the U.S. coast and in coastal waters. This website provides access to data that describe the economics associated with both ocean-related and coastal economies, within which the commercial seafood industry is contained. Data can be downloaded at the county level within all US states. Go to the website and select the data you wish to see. This website does NOT allow you to “carve out” data specifically for the seafood industry. But you can find information describing the coastal economy of which the seafood industry is an important component.
The Coastal County Snapshot is provided by NOAA in affiliation with the Economics: National Ocean Watch (ENOW) program. The data provided are very similar to those data available from the NOEP program. However, this webpage allows the user to access county-level data directly. As with the NOEP data … the user can not “carve out” data specifically for the seafood industry … but data pertaining to the Ocean-related economy, which includes Living Marine Resources, are available. Of particular interest is information describing the numbers of jobs related to the Ocean economy.
The Working Waterfront offers information about the economic importance of commercial working waterfronts in the US. Upon entering the website, the first page is an overview of the US Ocean economy, utilizing information from both NOEP and ENOW, as discussed above. However, the user can scroll to the bottom of the page and select “Economic Analysis Results”. On the very first line of text at the far right, the user can select “full report here” … which will send the user to a report entitled “Economic Analysis of Working Waterfronts in the US”. This report provides extremely detailed information, on a state and county level, about the waterfront economy along the US coast. Referring back to the website’s original page … the user can quickly refer to sections of the full report by selecting specific tables listed as you scroll down. Again, addressing the commercial seafood industry specifically is not possible, but the study does emphasize the contribution of working waterfronts to the coastal economy.
QUESTIONS?? If you have any questions about accessing or better understanding the information above, please contact Chuck Adams, PO Box 110240, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Food and Resource Economics Dept / Florida Sea Grant, Gainesville, FL 32611; firstname.lastname@example.org; 352-294-7667.