The NOAA Fisheries, Fisheries Statistics Division has automated data summary programs that anyone can use to rapidly and easily summarize U.S. commercial fisheries landings.
Recent Changes To Our Landings Data
We recently added the 1985-2000 commercial harvest of brine shrimp (Artemiasp.) from the great Salt Lake in Utah to our web query databases and query programs. The quantity of brine shrimp landings came from web pages or were provided by biologists associated with the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem Project (GSLEP) of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. The value of landings was estimated using annual tax revenue data provided by the Utah Tax Commission. The landings value represent the price received by harvesters at the dock before the brine shrimp are processed and is equivalent to the ex-vessel value reported for other states and products. The addition of these Utah brine shrimp harvests to our landings data increase total U.S. landings by about 137 million pounds and $50 million during this 16 year period.
Our brine shrimp landings may differ on an annual basis from the historical quantity reported by GSLEP because their landings are reported by harvest season which may extend from about October to January while our data are reported by calendar year. During some years the brine shrimp harvest was limited to a single month, October.
The landings quantity represent the raw biomass weight of the brine shrimp harvest and may include brine shrimp adults, brine shrimp eggs, empty cysts, algae and other materials. The hard-walled eggs, called cysts, comprise on average about 60% of the raw biomass by weight. The cysts are sorted and extracted from the landed biomass and the dried cysts are sold to the aquaculture industry. The cysts remain inactive as long as they are kept dry or under anaerobic conditions. When the cysts are added to water they hydrate in a matter of hours and the eggs hatch into nauplii larvae which grow into adults in a few weeks. It is the adult brine shrimp, hatched from the cysts, that provide a primary food source to many aquarium fishes and invertebrates.
Menhaden, by weight, currently are the second most commonly landed fish that is harvested by the U.S. commercial fishery and historically have usually been in the top ten species of fish and shellfish in terms of landings value. Due to federal data confidentiality restrictions, however, the NOAA Fisheries could not indicate complete menhaden landings for the state of Virginia on their public web pages. From 1977 to 1996 only relatively small quantities of menhaden sold to several different seafood dealers for bait in the state of Virginia were identified by species and reported on our web pages as non-confidential landings. The bulk of menhaden, fish processed for their oil and used for industrial purposes, were not indicated by species in our landing statistics because there were only one or two processors who handled these fish and these landings were confidential. Although the processed menhaden were not identified by species in our landing query programs, the pounds and values of their landings were included with other fishes and reported as unclassified finfish so that complete and accurate total landings were reported for the state in our web page landing summaries.
NOAA Fisheries recently received a written release that now allows us to identify by species and report complete menhaden landings for 1977-1996. These previously confidential landings averaged more than 550 million pounds and $27 million per year.