(TRENTON) – The Department of Agriculture today announced that the latest findings by the National Marine Fisheries Service show that in 2004, New Jersey commercial fishermen landed a record 187 million pounds of seafood valued at almost $146 million.
New Jersey’s 2003 harvest yielded 170 million pounds of fish with a dockside value of $121 million.
“New Jersey’s commercial fishermen have been supplying the world’s finest seafood for over 300 years, being within easy reach of more than 100 Northern and Southern species ranging from Atlantic mackerel to yellowfin tuna,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus. “We want the industry to continue to prosper and grow so future generations can enjoy high quality seafood caught off of our shores.”
In 2004, the top species by value harvested in New Jersey included: sea scallops -$67.4 million; surf clams-$22.3 million; ocean quahogs-$9.1 million; squid $8.5 million; hard clams-$7.4 million; blue crabs-$5.3 million; fluke-$4.4 million; Atlantic mackerel-$3.4 million; monkfish $3.5 million; lobster $1.8 million; and oysters-$1.6 million. Surf clams and ocean quahogs are the clams that are commonly used for products such as sauces, clam strips, and chowders.
“Much of the recent positive growth can be attributed to fishermen working together with government officials and scientists to develop effective management plans and strategies that can help ensure that our coastal resources remain available to future generation,” said Kuperus. “This strategy has paid dividends with a great harvest of sea scallops and squid.”
Variety and location have helped New Jersey seafood excel in the world and national markets. New Jersey is the world’s leading supplier of surf clams, ocean quahogs and mackerel. And, in 2004, Cape May became the fifth largest port in the nation in terms of dollar value landing $68.1 million. Other important ports include Atlantic City, Belford, Point Pleasant, Point Norris and Barnegat Light. With annual retail, import and export sales in excess of $2 billion, New Jersey seafood is vital to our state’s economy.
To highlight the state’s seafood industry, in 2004 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.
In 1998, the United States Department of Agriculture listed only 28 aquatic farms in New Jersey. Since the New Jersey Department of Agriculture began issuing Aquatic Farmer Licenses in 2004, 172 licenses have been granted. Of that total, 154 are shellfish growers (100 clams, 42 oysters and 12 clams & oysters), 14 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 has received a USDA value-added grant to develop a Jersey Seafood brand of premium bagged clams.
“We want consumers to know that the seafood they are buying comes from proud New Jersey fishermen, that our fishermen follow sound management practices to help maintain the health of the ocean, and use the latest technology to ensure the highest quality catch,” said Kuperus. “The Jersey Seafood brand will help residents recognize they are buying locally and supporting the state’s important fishing industry.”
For more information, here are some helpful links:
Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University
New Jersey Marine Sciences Consortium