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BY GEORGE: They sure were biting

US seafood landings reached a 17-year high in 2011, thanks in part to rebuilding fish populations, and the value of landings also increased, according to a new report released today by NOAA.

US commercial fishermen landed 10.1 billion pounds of fish and shellfish in 2011, valued at $5.3 billion, an increase over 2010 of 1.9 billion pounds and more than $784 million. Much of the increase is due to higher catches of Gulf Menhaden, Alaska Pollock, and Pacific Hake, also known as Whiting.

More than 10 million recreational saltwater anglers in the United States took 69 million marine fishing trips in 2011 and caught 345 million fish, releasing nearly 60 percent of them alive. Spotted sea trout remained the top catch for recreational anglers, with 41 million caught in 2011. Atlantic croaker, sand sea trout, spot, and kingfishes were the other most common catches for saltwater anglers last year.

The report also shows that the average American ate 15 pounds of fish and shellfish in 2011, less than the 2010 figure of 15.8 pounds. Altogether, Americans consumed 4.7 billion pounds of seafood, making the US second only to China in seafood consumption.

In 2011, about 91 percent of seafood consumed in the US was imported, up five percent from 2010. However, a portion of this imported seafood is caught by American fishermen, exported overseas for processing and then re-imported to the US The top three imports are shrimp, canned tuna, and tilapia fillet.

Almost half of imported seafood comes from aquaculture, or farmed seafood. America's aquaculture industry currently meets less than five percent of US seafood demand, producing primarily oysters, clams, mussels, and some finfish, including salmon.

By: George Elliott

They sure were biting,

Its a crying shame that we in the great United States have to import 91% of the seafood that we consume, while a huge number of our nations commercial fisherman have been over-regulated out of business and the ones that are still in business spend more time tied up at the docks than actually fishing. Our recreational fisherman have suffered as well with closures and lowered limits on fish stocks that have been deemed overfished, when in reality these stocks are more than plentiful. For example black bass, vermilion snapper, grouper, sea trout and speckeled trout just to name a few.