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 2,545 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 70-85% of US consumption of fish and shellfish.

Limits to Prevent Overfishing

Overfishing occurs when a stock has a harvest rate higher than the rate that produces its maximum sustainable yield.

Hazardous Weather

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

Industry size & Structure
Industry Forecast
Commercial Fishing Industry Growth
Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

Recent Developments

Mar 27, 2024 - Strong Lobster Prices Boost Earnings for Maine's Fishermen
  • Maine’s 2023 commercial seafood landings increased by $25 million over 2022, according to preliminary data released by the state’s Department of Marine Resources (DMR). Maine’s commercial fishermen earned approximately $611.3 million for the 204.7 million pounds of seafood landed on state docks, according to the DMR. The top three species landed were lobster (46%), menhaden or pogies (12%), and seaweed (10%). The jump in overall value was largely attributed to a strong boat price for lobster, Maine’s most valuable species in 2023. The price paid to fishermen increased from $3.97 per pound in 2022 to $4.95 per pound in 2023, netting harvesters an additional $72 million compared to the previous year, for a total value in 2023 of $464,371,720. 2023’s lobster catch declined by more than 5% from the previous year as climate change and regulations to protect whales continue to impact the industry.
  • In March, an organization of US shrimp fishermen and processors in eight shrimp-producing states asked the Labor Department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs to add shrimp from India to its 2024 List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor, SeafoodSource reports. The Southern Shrimp Alliance (SSA) alleged in a letter that even as India’s share of the US shrimp market has grown to nearly 40% in 2023, its shrimp industry continues to rely on manual labor rather than automation, particularly for peeling shrimp. To keep costs down, SSA claims India’s shrimp industry has become increasingly reliant on unregistered shrimp farms and peeling sheds and cited various reports and disclosures documenting both child and forced labor practices in the shrimp industry there. Previously, Taiwan, Thailand, China, Bangladesh, and Myanmar were called out for the alleged use of forced labor in their fishing or shrimp-processing sectors.
  • US sales of fresh and frozen seafood should stabilize this year after a challenging 2023, Seafood Source reports citing retail analysts attending the 2024 National Fisheries Institute-hosted Global Seafood Market Conference in Orlando, Florida in January. Last year, overall fresh and frozen seafood sales declined due to factors including inflation's impact on shoppers’ spending, subsequent depleted savings, and the resumption of student debt payments. In 2023 refrigerated finfish volume fell 3.8% while dollar sales declined 1.8%. Similarly, frozen finfish volume fell 4.2% and dollar sales were down 3.1%. Refrigerated shellfish sales sank 5.6%, while volume rose 0.9%. Frozen shellfish followed finfish’s trends. After a tough 2023, “Food and beverage is going to return to growth,” said Chris DuBois of market research firm Circana who predicts potential growth of 1% or 2% in fresh seafood sales in 2024.
  • Two US senators in November introduced the Working Waterfront Preservation Act, a bipartisan bill that would help preserve access for the nation’s fishermen and maritime workers to waterfronts in coastal communities, National Fisherman reports. The bill, sponsored by senators Susan Collins of Maine and Jack Reed of Rhode Island, would support the commercial fishing, aquaculture, boatbuilding, and for-hire recreational fishing industries that are vital to the culture, heritage, and economies of coastal towns and cities that are under threat from gentrification, infrastructure issues, sea level rise, and many other challenges. according to a press release from Collin’s office. The legislation would establish a $20 million grant program to help municipal and state governments, nonprofit organizations, and participants in maritime industries purchase or improve working waterfront property in coastal states. To be eligible for a grant, recipients would be required to permanently protect an area as a working waterfront.
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