Keeping Seafood Safe and Plentiful

New figures show that Americans eat more than 16 pounds of seafood per person each year. But what to eat, how much, and the availability of certain seafood gets confusing.


Seafood counter at a local market.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

Americans eat everything from salmon caught in Alaska and shrimp raised in farms off the China coast, to orange roughy from the deep trenches of the Southern Pacific. Our appetite for seafood is large and growing, and we need help weeding through all of the information.

That’s why NOAA developed FishWatch.noaa.gov, a comprehensive web site that offers valuable information on availability, safety, quality, preparation, and health guidelines for your favorite seafood — all in an easy-to-read format. You’ll learn the current population status of your favorite seafood, as well as how to effectively shop for and safely store your seafood.

On FishWatch.noaa.gov, you can find information on about 80 of the most common species that are harvested, farmed, and eaten in the United States. For each species you can learn about population size, fishing practices, import/export statistics, photos, factoids, nutritional content, and more.

Healthy Fisheries Support a Healthy Economy

Seafood is big business in the United States, and NOAA is working hard to help ensure that consumers get the best seafood possible, while maintaining healthy fish stocks.

Healthy fisheries provide more than a great meal; they provide jobs, recreation and more for millions of Americans. In 2007, commercial fishers in the U.S. caught more than nine billion pounds of seafood, worth more than $4 billion. And consumers in the U.S. spent approximately $68 billion on seafood. It’s been a challenge for stocks to keep up with our demand.


NOAA seafood inspectors examining seafood before it goes to market.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

The nation imports about 84 percent of its seafood, and at least half of that seafood is farmed. America’s aquaculture industry, though vibrant and diverse, currently meets only 5 to 7 percent of U.S. demand for seafood. And the majority of that is catfish. Marine products such as U.S. farmed oysters, clams, mussels and salmon supply only 1.5 percent of American seafood demand. Expanding U.S. sustainable aquaculture would provide consumers with even more affordable, locally and regionally produced seafood.

NOAA’s Aquaculture Program

Aquaculture is the fastest growing form of food production in the world. It is also a significant source of protein for people in many countries, including the United States. Globally, nearly half the fish consumed by humans is produced by fish farms. This worldwide trend toward aquaculture production is expected to continue. At the same time, demand for safe, healthy seafood also is expected to grow.

NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service is working hard to promote sustainable fisheries, protect fish habitats, and reduce wasteful fishing practices as well as prevent lost economic potential associated with overfishing, declining species and degraded habitats. We assess and predict the status of fish stocks, ensure compliance with fisheries regulations, and work to reduce wasteful fishing practices — all to ensure the continued availability of safe and nutritious seafood.

Visit www.FishWatch.noaa.gov to learn more about sustainable fisheries and seafood safety, and www.aquaculture.noaa.gov to learn more about NOAA’s Aquaculture Program. NOAA logo.