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Seafood consumption in US still gaining, but farming may be needed to keep pace.

Americans ate 16.5 pounds offish and shellfish per capita last year, a two percent increase over the 16.2 pounds in 2005, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). But future increases may depend on developing aquaculture.

Consumption totaled 4.9 billion pounds of seafood in 2006. But imports accounted for roughly 83% of that, and there have been problems with imports lately, as witness Chinese catfish. Moreover, wild sources of fish and seafood are running short.

Increased seafood consumption is due in part to the growth in imports of farmed fish and shellfish, the NMFS said. The United States can become more self-sufficient at producing seafood with expanded aquaculture, a topic of legislation currently pending in Congress.

"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," commented Bill Hogarth, director of the NMFS, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). "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.

Of the total 16.5 pounds consumed per person in 2006, Americans ate a record 12.3 pounds of frozen and fresh finfish and shellfish, up 0.7 pounds from last year. Canned seafood consumption dropped 0.4 pounds to 3.9 pounds per capita. People in the United States consumed 5.2 pounds of fillets and steaks, up 0.2 pounds, and also a record. Shrimp continued to be the top consumed seafood in the USA at yet another record 4.4 pounds, up 0.3 pounds from 2005.
US Annual Per Capita Consumption,
Of Certain Fishery Items in Pounds

Year Fillets & Steaks Sticks & Portions Shrimp

2002 4.1 0.8 3.7

2003 4.3 0.7 4.0

2004 4.6 0.7 4.2

2005 5.0 0.9 4.1

2006 5.2 0.9 4.4

US Annual Per Capita Consumption
Of Seafood and Shellfish in Pounds

Year Frozen/Fresh Canned Cured Total

2002 11.0 4.3 0.3 15.6

2003 11.4 4.6 0.3 16.3

2004 11.8 4.5 0.3 16.6

2005 11.6 4.3 0.3 16.2

2006 12.3 3.9 0.3 16.5
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Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Oct 1, 2007
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