Seafood and Aquaculture
History and Facts:
Florida's diverse and dynamic commercial fishing industry remains a leader in consistently providing fresh quality finfish and shellfish to satisfy growing consumer demand worldwide. The dockside value of Florida seafood currently ranks in the top 10 states, with dockside value of $208 million. Florida fishermen catch over 100 different varieties, including popular species such as grouper, snapper, blue crab, pink shrimp, spiny lobsters and Spanish mackerel. The Florida seafood industry is not standing still. New products and markets are being explored for the cannonball jellyfish, natural sponges, golden crab and other well-utilized species. Florida has more seafood processing plants than any other state. There are over 450 businesses producing value-added seafood for domestic and international consumption. Florida's seafood industry is dedicated to preserving the environment and conscientious use of this natural resource. Providing consumers with the highest quality fresh and affordable seafood continues to be the industry's top priority.
Florida consistently ranks among the top 10 states in the country in the dockside value of fresh seafood production with average annual sales of more than $200 million.
Florida fishermen catch more than 90 percent of the nations supply of grouper, pompano, mullet, stone crab, pink shrimp, spiny lobsters, and Spanish mackerel.
Floridas fishing industry provides more than 200 million seafood dinners annually.
The total economic impact of Floridas seafood harvest is more than $1 billion annually, and creates more than 20,000 full-time and 10,000 part-time jobs.
Florida seafood products perfectly fit the general dietary
recommendations of today's health-conscious consumer. Most varieties are rich in vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are essential for thousands of chemical reactions that occur in our bodies every second. Most seafood products are low in fat, cholesterol, sodium and calories. With consumers eating a healthier diet, Florida processors can capitalize on the exceptional nutritional value of seafood.
Florida's semitropical climate, long coastline and excellent water supplies in certain areas make it an ideal state for aquaculture. Indeed, Florida is already a leading U.S. producer of farm-raised ornamental fish, aquatic plants and an important producer of hard clams. The burgeoning U.S. and foreign markets for seafood, declining stocks of wild species, increasing regulation of commercial fisheries and the availability of suitable farmland should spur substantial investment in Florida aquaculture in the future.
Florida growers sold a record $102 million in aquaculture products during 1997, an increase of 29 percent over the $79 million in sales recorded in a 1995 survey.
The tropical fish segment, as in earlier surveys, continued to dominate Floridas aquaculture industry.
There were 203 active growers, accounting for $57.2 million in sales, or 56 percent of the 1997 total.
Aquatic plants, with 59 growers and $13.2 million in gross sales, placed second in value. Sales of other aquatics such as crawfish, fresh water shrimp and eels jumped to $12.1 million, up from $4.15 million in 1995.
Clam production zoomed to $12.7 million, up 135 percent from $5.41 in 1995.
Alligator growers recorded gross income of $4.5 million in sales of both hides and meat. The 26 active growers sold 19,560 hides for an average price of $122 per hide.
Producers also sold 112,822 pounds of meat, about 5.8 pounds per gator, at an average price of $7.02 per pound.
Sales in tilapia fish reached $1.06 million, and sales from sport / game fish totaled $1.04 million. All other aquatic sales totaled $5.58 million from 13 growers.