Commercial Fishing

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 2,500 commercial fishing operations in the US harvest fish and shellfish from their natural habitats in fresh water, tidal areas, rivers and oceans. The approximately 300 target species vary by region and require differing methods, vessels and equipment for their catch. Imports currently represent 94% of US consumption of fish and shellfish.

Limits to Prevent Overfishing

Overfishing is the catching and killing of more fish than can naturally be replaced.

Weather Hazards

Fishing is a seasonal job and catch is highest during the summer and fall, as winter fishing is particularly hazardous.

Industry size & Structure

The average commercial fishing company employs 2 workers and generates nearly $2 million in annual revenue.

    • Companies in commercial fishing vary in size from small vessel and family operations that operate as a fishing community to supply local and regional markets to large corporate fleets that supply regional, national and export markets.
    • There are about 2,500 companies in commercial fishing and 94% of companies have four or less employees.
    • Total annual revenue or "landings value" for commercial fishers range $4-6 billion.
    • Approximately 69,200 are employed in the industry, 92% are self-employed.
    • The largest firms are typically integrated, moving from managing their own fishing fleet to processing and distribution. These firms include: Nippon Suisan Kaisha (USA), Shamrock Foods, and Trident Seafoods Corporation.
    • Eight regional fishery management councils under NOAA oversee about 54 fishery management plans that control approximately 480 major fish stocks making up over 90% of annual revenue.
                              Industry Forecast
                              Commercial Fishing Industry Growth
                              Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                              Recent Developments

                              Nov 25, 2022 - FDA Steps Up Seafood Traceability
                              • Seafood suppliers, including harvesters, will face added record keeping requirements under a new Food and Drug Administration rule finalized in November. The new FDA rule is designed to reduce contaminated food through the food supply, whether sourced in the US or abroad. The additional recordkeeping requirements apply to those that manufacture, process, pack, or hold certain foods, including all histamine-producing species of finfish, all finfish potentially contaminated with ciguatoxin (such as grouper, barracuda and snapper), and all finfish. The rule also applies to all smoked fish, mollusks, and crustaceans. Key features of the final rule include an expansion of FDA's authority to require companies enact new food-safety requirements, including the identification of critical tracking events at specific points in the supply chain – such as harvesting, cooling, initial packing, receiving, transforming, and shipping foods. FDA may also require the creation of a traceability plan.
                              • Alaska’s fishing industry reported a second fatality-free commercial fishing season in fiscal year 2022 (ended September 30), according to the US Coast Guard 17th District Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety office. The state’s first fatality-free year for commercial fisheries was 2015, the year that dockside safety exams became mandatory for vessels operating beyond three nautical miles from the territorial sea baseline, National Fisherman reported in November. “I give most all the credit to the fishing industry when it comes to staying safe and alive,” said the Coast Guard’s commercial fishing vessel safety coordinator Scott Wilwert. An operational fatality is defined as a death occurring as a result of an incident at sea, including a man overboard, a sunken or lost vessel, or an on-deck accident, among other causes.
                              • In a move the fishing industry described as a crushing blow, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in October 2022 announced the cancellation of the winter snow crab season in the Bering Sea due to a drastic decline in the crab population, The New York Times reported. Biologists speculate that rising temperatures in the Bering Sea may be killing the crustaceans, about 90% of which have been lost between 2018 and 2021, said a biologist with the state’s fish and game department Miranda Westphal. This year was the first time the snow crab season, which typically opens in mid-October, has been canceled because the crab population was below the threshold for opening a fishery, the department said. The cancellation is expected to wipe out over a $200 million harvest, according to SeafoodNews.com.
                              • Lobster fishermen in Maine lost a legal battle to overturn whale protections that limit the lobster harvest, Fox Business News reported in September 2022. A US District Court in Washington, DC denied a request from fishing groups that sought to challenge new fishing rules designed to protect rare whales. The rules are meant to protect North Atlantic right whales, which number less than 340 and are vulnerable to becoming entangled in fishing gear. The ruling is the latest in a string of legal setbacks for the lobster industry in New England, which is also contending with increasingly strict fishing rules meant to protect the whales, according to Fox Business.
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