Stonington tops state with $60 million in landings

STONINGTON — If it seems that there have been a lot of fancy new pickups on the roads of Deer Isle recently, NOAA Fisheries may know the reason why.

Last week, the federal fisheries agency issued its annual Fisheries of the U.S. Report for 2014. Among the statistics buried in the 135-page tome was the value of commercial fisheries landings in Stonington during the year: $60 million. That represents an increase of $11 million — 22.4 percent — over the $49 million catch landed in the island town during 2013.

Despite the jump in value, Stonington dropped from 17th to 18th place among U.S. ports in terms of landed value.

Landings, almost all lobster, increased by 25 percent, from 20 million pounds in 2013 to 25 million pounds last year, but Stonington still ranked third among Maine ports in terms of quantity of landings.

Portland was Maine’s busiest harbor with seafood landings of 57 million pounds, down from 62 million in 2013. Rockland placed second with landings of 41 million pounds, up from 35 million the previous year.

Reflecting higher prices for lobster and other seafood, the lobstering harbor of Vinalhaven ranked 34th among all U.S. ports in terms of landed value and Portland ranked 40th overall.

Last year, total landings in the five-state New England region were just under 643 million pounds, up about 7 million pounds, worth some $1.2 billion.

Maine topped the region with landings valued at about $547.6 million, but Massachusetts had the highest landings, some 274 million pounds.

Each year, NOAA Fisheries complies statistics from the previous year into an annual snapshot documenting fishing’s importance to the nation. Inside the 2014 report are landings totals for both domestic commercial and recreational fishing by species. That information is used by the fisheries service to track trends in such areas as annual seafood consumption and the productivity of top U.S. fishing ports.

According to NOAA, U.S. commercial fishermen landed 9.5 billion pounds of seafood valued at $5.4 billion in 2014. The walleye pollock fishery in Alaska led the way with landings of 3.1 billion pounds worth some $400 million.

Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and New Bedford, Mass. continue to dominate the list of top ports by volume and value, respectively, driven by landings of pollock for Alaska and sea scallops in Massachusetts.

The five highest value commercial species categories were: crabs, primarily from Alaska, ($686 million); shrimp, primarily from the Gulf Coast ($681 million); lobster ($625 million); wild salmon, primarily from Alaska and the West Coast ($617 million); and scallops, primarily sea scallops, the vast bulk of them landed in New Bedford ($428 million).

According to NOAA Fisheries, the estimated domestic per capita consumption of fish and shellfish was 14.6 pounds (edible meat) in 2014. That was essentially unchanged from 2013.

A small uptick resulted from an increase in the consumption of fresh and frozen seafood. The increase offset a drop in the estimated consumption of canned seafood, caused by a decrease in canned salmon production in 2014.

Per capita consumption of fresh and frozen products was 10.9 pounds, an increase of 0.4 pounds from 2013. Fresh and frozen finfish accounted for 5.9 pounds, while fresh and frozen shellfish consumption was 5.0 pounds per capita.

Consumption of canned fishery products — salmon, tuna, sardines, herring and the like — was 3.4 pounds per capita in 2014, down 0.3 pounds from 2013. Cured fish — primarily smoked — accounted for 0.3 pounds per capita, unchanged from previous years.

Stephen Rappaport

Stephen Rappaport

Waterfront Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Rappaport has lived in Maine for nearly 30 years. A lifelong sailor, he spends as much time as possible messing about in boats. [email protected]

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