The Florida Keys continue to rank as one of the most significant seafood ports in the United States, the National Marine Fisheries Service reports.
The “port of Key West” accounted for $71 million in commercial seafood sales in 2015, which stands at No. 10 nationally among 128 surveyed ports, according to a new federal report.
Key West statistically is considered the port for the vast majority of sales from Monroe County’s seafood industry.
In terms of pounds, the port of Key West ranks No. 39 with its 17 million pounds harvested, up from 13 million pounds in 2014.
“The Keys bring in lobster, stone-crab claws and shrimp — all the expensive fish,” Bob Jones, executive director of the commercial Southeastern Fisheries Association, said Tuesday. “Other places catch more fish but you’ve got the ones people want.”
Key West’s port sales were put at $61 million in 2014.
“The Keys still have a very healthy shrimp fishery,” Jones said. “The fleet doesn’t look anything like it used to, when there were 400 boats. But the shrimp are still there and always will be if we keep Florida Bay clean.”
Five of the top 10 ports in the 2015 summary of commercial-fishing value are in Alaska, including second-ranked Dutch Harbor, which reported $218 million in catch sales from 124 million pounds of catch. New Bedford’s production and sales actually dropped from 2014, when it landed 140 million pounds worth $329 million.
Other domestic ports in the top 10 of value include Empire-Venice, La. ($111 million); Honolulu, Hawaii ($97 million); and Cape May, N.J. ($72 million).
Of the U.S. harvest, 75.3 percent is sold for fresh or frozen food for human consumption, and 4.7 percent for canned or cured human food. The balance goes to fish, pet food and other uses.
All of Florida (including saltwater and inland fish) generated $241.24 million in 2015 from more than 95 million pounds of harvest.
Kevin Wadlow: 305-440-3206