Seafood Consumption on the Rise

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Seafood Consumption on the Rise

WASHINGTON -- Americans ate 16.5 pounds of fish and shellfish per person in 2006, a 2 percent increase over the 2005 consumption figure of 16.2 pounds, according to a study released yesterday by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Fisheries Service. The increase brings seafood consumption up to slightly under the 2004 record of 16.6 pounds. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department.

Americans consumed a total of 4.9 billion pounds of seafood in 2006, according to the group. The nation imports roughly 83 percent of its seafood and remains the third-largest global consumer of fish and shellfish, behind Japan and China.

The group also expressed its concern for the future availability of seafood, and backed legislation pending in Congress that it believes will offer a solution. "The National Offshore Aquaculture Act of 2007 would provide American consumers with greater choice and confidence in the sustainability and safety of their seafood selections," said Bill Hogarth, director of NOAAis National Marine Fisheries Service. "This legislation is an important step toward increasing our supply of home-grown seafood."

The United Nations is projecting a 40 million-ton global seafood shortage by 2030, unless something is done. "While NOAA works to end overfishing and rebuild wild stocks, the United States still needs aquaculture to narrow the trade gap and to keep up with consumer demand," the group said.

Of the total 16.5 pounds consumed per person, Americans ate a record 12.3 pounds of fresh and frozen finfish and shellfish each, up 0.7 pounds from last year. Canned seafood consumption dropped 0.4 pounds, to 3.9 pounds per capita. Americans consumed a record 5.2 pounds of fillets and steaks, up 0.2 pounds. Shrimp continues to be the most consumed seafood in the United States, at a record 4.4 pounds in 2006, up 0.3 pounds from 2005.