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NEWS RELEASE 01-131; November 2, 2001
November 2, 2001
News Release 01-131
DECLINING RESOURCE ABUNDANCE PLAGUES FISH INDUSTRY, REPORTS ITC
Lingering effects of past overfishing and other problems caused the U.S. fish harvest to fall by
8 percent in quantity and 19 percent in value during the late 1990s, reports the U.S. International
Trade Commission (ITC) in its publication Industry and Trade Summary: Fresh or Frozen Fish.
The ITC, an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding agency, recently released the report as part of
an ongoing series of reports on thousands of products imported into and exported from the
United States. The report addresses market, industry, and trade conditions for fresh or frozen fish
for the period 1995-99. Following are highlights of the report.
- The fresh or frozen fish industry produces a wide variety of seafoods, some of the most
popular of which are fresh cod and flounder fillets, frozen blocks from which fish sticks
and portions are cut, and swordfish and halibut steaks.
- The U.S. harvest of fish in 1999 totaled 3.5 million metric tons, valued at $1.6 billion.
This harvest represented a 8 percent drop in quantity and 19 percent in value from the
1995 harvest of 3.9 million metric tons, valued at $1.9 billion. During the same period,
U.S. production of fresh or frozen fish fillets and steaks, the industry's principal product
group, declined by 5 percent in quantity and 1 percent in value, to 167,000 metric tons,
valued at $835 million. The slower decline in processed-product output was made
possible by significant increases in imported semiprocessed fish.
- The U.S. trade deficit in fresh or frozen fish rose from $195 million in 1995 to
$1.3 billion in 1999. U.S. imports of fresh or frozen fish, including frozen groundfish
fillets and fresh Atlantic salmon, rose by 50 percent, to $2.94 billion in 1999. The
principal sources of U.S. imports are Canada (23 percent of total value during 1995-99),
Chile (11 percent), and Iceland (7 percent). U.S. exports of fresh or frozen fish, such as
surimi and frozen whole salmon, fell by 20 percent, to $1.6 billion in 1999. The principal
markets for U.S. exports are Japan (63 percent of total value during 1995-99), Canada
(12 percent), and Korea (7 percent).
- Global production of fresh or frozen fish reached 16.7 million metric tons in 1998, down
from 16.8 million metric tons in 1995. The largest producers are China, Japan, the
United States, and Norway, with a combined share of 37 percent of world production.
From 1995 to 1998, world exports rose from 10.6 million metric tons valued at
$20.6 billion to 12 million metric tons valued at $21.6 billion. As a share of production
volume, world exports rose from 63 percent in 1995 to 72 percent in 1998.
- Declining resource abundance is the greatest problem facing the U.S. and many foreign
industries, both in terms of domestic supply of harvested fish and the volume of fish
available worldwide for import. Increasingly, the world's most valuable fisheries are
becoming depleted through a combination of overfishing and industrial (i.e., coastline)
development. Aquaculture will continue to play a growing role in offsetting the declining
availability of fish harvested from the seas.
The foregoing information is from the ITC report Industry and Trade Summary: Fresh or Frozen
Fish (USITC Publication 3463, October 2001).
ITC Industry and Trade Summary reports include information on product uses, U.S. and foreign
producers, and customs treatment of the products being studied; they analyze the basic factors
affecting trends in consumption, production, and trade of the commodities, as well as factors
bearing on competitiveness of the U.S. industry in domestic and foreign markets.
This report will be available on the ITC Internet web site at www.usitc.gov. A printed copy may
be ordered by calling 202-205-1809, or by writing the Office of the Secretary, U.S. International
Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436. Requests may be faxed to
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