Commercial and recreational fishing have a significant impact on all of the West Coast states. The list of related industries is long, including seafood processors, brokers, shipyards, ports, marine equipment suppliers, gear repair, netting manufacturers, dry goods suppliers, fuel docks, and more. The combined impact on all of these industries and the number of jobs created contributes significantly to coastal economies.
Oregon provides a perfect example. According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the state’s commercial fisheries generated an estimated $558 million income to the statewide economy in 2019.
One facet of the commercial fishing’s impact on the state labor market is found in seafood processing. In 2021, the Oregon Department of Labor reported that the state had 34 employers and 1,084 employees focused solely on packaging fish and seafood for cooking and eating. That same year commercial fishers landed 318 million pounds of fish and shellfish. Total harvests had a dockside value of $206 million. Oregon exported $49.3 million in seafood, with Canada being our largest buyer.
Much like the fishing vessels that haul in the catch, there is a long and rich history of seafood processing in Oregon. Often multi-generational, processors are reliable employers and major contributors to the communities in which they are located.
Fishing boats themselves represent small business and are often steeped in family and tradition. It is not uncommon to find vessels that have supported two or three generations of the same family with a history of hard and dangerous work in commercial fishing.
An abundance of information exists on the economic importance of fishing. Look more closely at a defined region, like the Newport (Oregon) area to glean more details about how coastal communities not only benefit, but are dependent upon the seafood industry. Home to the largest commercial fishing fleet and the most active recreational marina on the Oregon Coast, the Newport area received a total economic contribution from direct income, as well as marine-related businesses and activities, of $346 million in 2019. These figures don’t even take into account the impact that a robust and visible commercial seaport has on tourism. Visitors flock to Newport to walk the docks, buy fresh seafood, and connect to the excitement of life at sea. You can find many similar positive benefits in West Coast ports.