For more than one billion people worldwide, fish and shellfish are the primary sources of dietary protein. The market in the United States, however, is an anomaly, in that Americans consume slightly less than half of the worldwide average of seafood. In 2015, the annual per capita consumption of fish and shellfish in the United States was 15.5 pounds. At the same time, the United States is one of the biggest producers of seafood products in the world. Here are some fun facts about the American seafood industry.

The Largest Seafood Landings in the United States

The state of Alaska is, by far, the largest producer of seafood, the majority of which is imported to other countries. In 2017, the state had 5.6 million pounds of seafood industry landings. That’s a far cry above the next state, Louisiana, which had 1.2 million pounds. Others in the top five included Washington State at 555.9 thousand pounds, Virginia at 363.3 thousand pounds and Mississippi at 304 thousand pounds.


Americans Love Shrimp

Shrimp Seafood Export ImportBy far, the most popular seafood in the United States is shrimp. In fact, we eat three times the amount of shrimp per annum than we did 35 years ago. Shrimp are found in a wide range of outlets from fast food chains to high-end restaurants.About 94 percent of the shrimp that is consumed in the United States comes from Thailand, India and Indonesia, even though the Gulf states of Louisana and Mississippi are big producers of this shellfish. Annually, Americans consume approximately four pounds per year per person. Most shrimp that comes from abroad are raised in farms made of huge industrial tanks or engineered ponds that stretch for acres. Shrimp is the most popular imported seafood product, accounting for about one-third of all fish and seafood brought into the United States.


Salmon’s Round Trip Export Travels

Salmon seafood import exportWith the exception of areas such as the Pacific Northwest, much of the United States’ salmon supply is imported from fish farms in Chile. Much of what is caught in Alaska is sent to China, Japan and Korea as the population in those countries demand high-quality salmon for sushi and other dishes. At the same time, however, some Alaskan salmon makes a roundtrip from the United States to China and back. It’s more cost-effective for seafood companies to send frozen salmon caught in the United States to China for processing and then send it back here. The same is true for much of pollock caught in Alaskan waters, which is made into surimi, commonly called imitation crab as well as McDonald’s Filet-o-Fish sandwiches.

Most Crab is Imported

Crab import export SeafoodThe crabmeat in crab cakes probably doesn’t come from Chesapeake Bay, neither are Alaska King Crab Legs from Alaska. Most crab for crab cakes comes from the Gulf of Mexico while about 85 percent of king crab species consumed in the United States originates in Russian waters.

The Red Snapper Population Has Started to Rebound

After decades of overfishing that peaked in the 1980s, the population of red snapper has started to rebound. However, commercial and recreational fishermen are at odds over a management plan that limits the number of catches. Environmentalists also worry that an extension of red snapper season will once again endanger the species. Over the next two years, a $10 million study, conducted by five southern universities in conjunction with the National Marine Fisheries Service, will attempt to count every red snapper in the Gulf. The aim is to have the red snapper population reach a sustainable level by 2032.