Report: Gloucester landings down 8%, value static in 2018

PAUL BILODEAU/Staff photo. Workers offload lobster traps from the The Kathryn Leigh on the Jodrey State Fish Pier. After Maine, Massachusetts was the second-leading producer of lobster in 2018, with the 17.5 million pounds landed valued at $87.9 million. Gloucester is the state's top port for lobster landings.

The Fisheries of the United States 2018 report recently released by NOAA Fisheries highlighted a recurring annual trend nationally of overall commercial landings declining while the overall value of those landings increased.

In 2018, total landings at U.S. ports declined 5.3% to 4.3 million metric tons as compared to 2017. The value of those landings, however, rose 2.8% to $5.6 billion in 2018.

The port of Gloucester didn’t precisely mirror that trend in 2018.

While landings here declined 7.8% to 59 million pounds as compared to 2017, the value of those landings remained at $53 million — the same as 2017 and a $1 million increase from 2016

Massachusetts saw its landings decline 0.3% to 109,442 metric tons in 2018, but the statewide value of those landings — $647.2 million — was second only to Alaska’s catch value of $1.78 billion. The 2018 value of Massachusetts landings represented a 6.9% increase from 2017.

The New England states — minus Vermont — cumulatively recorded 259,326 metric tons of commercial seafood in 2018, up slightly from 2017, with the overall value increasing slightly more than 9% to $1.39 billion.

The New England region accounted for 14% percent of all U.S. commercial landings and 37% of the total value.

Those are just some of the array of statistics contained in the annual report that is designed to give an annual snapshot of the U.S. commercial and recreational fisheries, as well as national consumer preferences and levels of seafood consumption.

Here are some of other takeaways:

Meet the new U.S. seafood bosses. Same as the old U.S. seafood bosses

According to the Fisheries of the United States 2018 report, the ports of New Bedford and Dutch Harbor, Alaska, continued their long dynasties as the highest-value and highest volume commercial seafood ports, respectively, in the United States in 2018.

For the 13th consecutive year, New Bedford, buoyed by its big-dollar scallop fishery, remained the highest-value commercial seafood port in the United States with $431 million in total landings in 2018.

And for the 22nd consecutive year, Dutch Harbor, Alaska, in 2018 clocked in as the commercial seafood port with the highest volume of landings — 763 million pounds.

All hail the lobster

U.S. harvesters of American lobster landed 146.2 million pounds of lobster in 2018 with a value of $624.2 million. That is a 10% increase in landings and a 13% increase in value. The average ex-vessel price per pound was $4.27 in 2018, up from $4.15 in 2017

For the 37th consecutive year, Maine led all states in lobster landings, with the 120.1 million pounds landed valued at $486.9 million. That is a 12.2% increase in landings and an 11% increase in value.

Massachusetts was again the second-leading producer, with the 17.5 million pounds landed valued at $87.9 million. Together, Maine and Massachusetts accounted for 94% of all American lobster landings.

Scallops for the people

Landings of sea scallops increased 12% in 2018 to 57.9 million pounds, with a value of $532.3 million (up 5%). Massachusetts led the way with 40.4 million pounds of meat landed. New Jersey was second with 9.2 million pounds. The average boat price was $9.20 per pound in 2018, down from $9.84 in 2017.

Eat seafood. Then eat more

The U.S. per capita consumption of fish and shellfish was 16.1 pounds of edible meat in 2018, up slightly from 16 pounds consumed in 2017. 

Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or shorgan@gloucestertimes.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT

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