VALUE OF NEW JERSEY SEAFOOD CATCH CONTINUES UPWARD CLIMB
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(TRENTON) – The latest findings by the National Marine Fisheries Service show that the value of New Jersey’s commercial seafood catch increased $13 million in 2005. The harvest was worth $159 million, up from $146 million in 2004, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture announced today.
“The waters off of New Jersey continued in 2005 to provide our state’s commercial fishermen with some of the world’s finest seafood,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus. “Consumers are placing a great value on Jersey Seafood, helping the state’s seafood industry continue to prosper and grow so future generations can enjoy high quality seafood caught off of our shores.”
The National Marine Fisheries Service estimated that for every one dollar of landed value, six dollars are generated in the overall economy, bringing the value of New Jersey’s wild harvest to $954 million.
New Jersey is home to six major commercial fishing ports, with four ranked among the top fifty ports in the nation in terms of value of the harvest: Cape May was the fifth largest commercial fishing port in the nation, bringing in 74.6 million pounds valued at $68.4 million in 2005; Barnegat Light landed $26.7 million of fish, primarily sea scallops and monkfish; Point Pleasant’s 2005 catch of 24.8 million pounds was valued at $21.6 million; and Atlantic City brought in $18.5 million, mostly ocean quahogs and surf clams.
In 2005, almost 100 different species of finfish and shellfish were landed. The top species by dollar value harvested in New Jersey included: sea scallops -$88.5 million; surf clams-$20 million; hard clams-$7.5 million; blue crabs-$6.1 million; ocean quahogs-$5.5 million; fluke-$4.6 million; monkfish-$4.4 million; Atlantic mackerel-$4 million; longfin squid $2.8 million; and American lobster- $2 million.
New Jersey is one of the leading suppliers of surf clams, Atlantic mackerel and ocean quahogs to both the nation and the world. Surf clams and ocean quahogs are used in processed products such as chowders, sauces, dips and breaded clam strips.
“Although most of these processed clams are harvested in New Jersey, processing often occurs in other states,” said Kuperus. “One of the Department’s goals is to bring more seafood processing to the Garden State.
To highlight the state’s seafood industry, the Department of Agriculture developed a Jersey Seafood website at www.jerseyseafood.nj.gov, which provides consumers with a wide array of information on the state’s seafood industry and seafood products.
The website also includes a section on aquaculture, another important method of providing high quality New Jersey fish and shellfish to consumers in the state and around the world. Many of the oyster and hard clam landings are attributable to aquatic farmers.
Since the New Jersey Department of Agriculture began issuing Aquatic Farmer Licenses in 2004, 182 licenses have been granted. Of that total, 163 are shellfish growers (106 clams, 43 oysters and 14 clams & oysters), 15 finfish, 2 plants and 2 finfish and plants. As a requirement of the aquatic farmer license, growers are required to follow a set of Agricultural Management Practices and an Aquatic Organism Health Management Plan. These strategies are designed to protect wild stocks, the environment and the growing aquatic farming sector.
The Department is developing a brand for seafood that is landed or grown in New Jersey so that consumers can be assured that the products are local and meet specific handling standards. A group of New Jersey clammers is currently marketing premium bagged clams bearing the Jersey Seafood logo.
“Even though it is recommended that American double the amount of seafood they consume to maintain good health, average per capita consumption decreased from 16.6 to 16.2 pounds in 2005,” said Kuperus. “We want consumers to know that seafood is easy to prepare and the Jersey Seafood brand ensures it comes from proud New Jersey fishermen who follow sound management practices to ensure the highest quality catch and maintain the health of the ocean and the sustainability of its resources.”