NOAA outlines sweeping plan to boost the nation’s seafood industry

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released a sweeping five-year plan to prioritize and promote the country’s commercial fishing industry. 

Commercial fishing vessels docked in the St. Paul Harbor in Kodiak; Feb. 6, 2023 (Brian Venua/KMXT)

NOAA Fisheries announced its National Seafood Strategy on Wednesday. The agency said in a press release that the plan will “outline the direction” of the country’s seafood sector. It’s the first time NOAA has released an overall strategy aimed at addressing industry needs – the agency says it will complement other federal policies that are already in place.

The new plan outlines broad priorities, like investments in sustainability, research and aquaculture, and calls for making the country’s seafood sector more competitive – both within the U.S. and on the global market. It also outlines current challenges to the nation’s seafood industry, like labor shortages and lingering market disruptions caused by the pandemic. Climate change is also identified as a main present – and future – challenge to fishing communities.

The National Seafood Strategy is vague on costs and timelines, and doesn’t provide any regional insights into how the strategy might be implemented in places like Alaska. But it comes as processors are blaming competitive market conditions for lower payouts to fishermen across several of the state’s fisheries, and a string of cuts to catch limits and all-out closures.

NOAA estimates the dockside value of the country’s seafood industry at $6.3 billion – as of 2020, Alaska accounted for 60% of all commercial landings and 31% of the industry’s overall value.

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