Story map: Our dynamic marine economy

A new look at its value

America's marine economy is an entrepreneurial engine at the forefront of an expanding ocean frontier.

Cover for NOAA story map entitled Our dynamic marine economy.
Cover for NOAA story map entitled Our dynamic marine economy. (NOAA)

This story map, originally published in June 2020, updates the first official assessment of the U.S. marine economy. Developed by NOAA and the Bureau of Economic Analysis, new marine economy statistics provide the most accurate picture yet of America's marine economy.

In 2019, the marine economy contributed $397 billion to GDP and supported 2.4 million jobs, growing at a pace that outstripped U.S. economic growth as a whole. By 2030, global growth is projected to reach $3 trillion.

With an enormous scope of ocean, coastal and Great Lakes' activities, NOAA is uniquely positioned to support sustainable growth. This story map tracks the new statistics and provides a glimpse of NOAA's agency-wide contributions to our nation's dynamic marine economy.

Projected global growth of the marine economy by 2030.
Chart showing the projected global growth of the marine economy by 2030. (OECD 2016)


The marine economy includes activity that:

  • Takes place in marine areas such as cargo shipping;
  • Uses essential inputs from marine areas such as seafood processing;
  • Produces goods and services primarily for marine areas such as navigational equipment; and
  • Occurs because of proximity to coasts such as vacations and rental property.

Video file

Watch video with text explaining that just marine economic activities are now counted, not all of the activivities withing the sector they are in. In manufacturing, for instance, just manufacturing related to the ocean economy is counted. This is a major change, leading to the first comprehensive assessment of the U.S. marine economy.  (NOAA)
The marine economy is highly diverse.
The U.S. marine economy is highly diverse, including fisheries, tourism, and marine transportation just to name a few of the 10 sectors. (NOAA)
Millions of marine economic jobs (2019).
Chart showing millions of U.S. marine economy jobs (2019), with the largest being coastal hotels and restaurants at 464,000 in 2019. (NOAA)


Billions of dollars in marine production (2019).
Infographic showing production in 2019 of major sectors such as agriculture and utilities, with the marine economy being the largest at $665.7 billion. (NOAA)
Measuring marine production (2019).
Pie chart showing marine economic production by sector, with the largest being tourism and recreation at 35 percent in 2019 Measuring marine production. (NOAA)
Production growth of selected ocean sectors (2018-2019).
Chart showing U.S. production growth of selected ocean sectors, with the largest being boat and ship building at 36 percent between 2018 and 2019. (NOAA)
Six industries to watch in the marine economy — marine pharmaceuticals, aquaculture, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), geographic information technology (GIS), renewable energy and smart technology.
Animated GIF showing six growing industries in the U.S. marine economy — marine pharmaceuticals, aquaculture, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), geographic information technology (GIS), renewable energy and smart technology. (NOAA)


NOAA is uniquely positioned to grow the marine economy.

NOAA spurs new growth, new job sources and important leverage of major economic drivers. Following is a sampling of how NOAA support is key to the viability of the marine economy:

  • NOAA's role in protecting the health of ecosystems is vital to the economic well-being of fisheries, tourism and other critical sectors. Protecting coral reefs, for example, is crucial to coastal resilience and preserving the enormous potential of life-saving drugs.
  • NOAA tools are essential to enabling safe navigation, protecting the environment and ensuring America's economic competitiveness. U.S. seaports employ 41,000 workers, move $1.8 trillion of cargo annually, and directly and indirectly support more than 30 million jobs across sectors.
  • NOAA's investment in transformative technologies — including unmanned systems, artificial intelligence, cloud computing and 'omics, a revolutionary approach to unlocking the genetic secrets of marine life — optimize economic contributions.
  • NOAA's prioritization of enhanced environmental intelligence is establishing important new observing methods and accelerating developments in weather modeling through NOAA's flagship Earth Prediction Innovation Center, leading to more accurate and reliable weather forecast models that will support activities across the entire marine economy.
  • NOAA's multi-sector partnerships with the weather enterprise and ocean observing communities help shape NOAA initiatives and speed the transition of research to operations, significantly bolstering safety, efficiency and industry response to consumer needs.

Video file

Watch video showing major NOAA contributions to the marine economy in four key areas: marine transportation; seafood production; tourism and recreation; and coastal resilience. (NOAA)

Video file

Quote from Benjamin Friedman, NOAA Deputy Under Secretary for Operations, highlighting how NOAA has a 50-year track record of success in supporting the marine economy and that the use of new data, technology and science now provides the most accurate picture yet of America's marine economy. (NOAA).


To view the original NOAA story map, please see this version on the ESRI website offsite link.