We still love seafood; we're just eating less

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Americans ate an average of 16.3 pounds of fish and shellfish in 2007, a 1 percent decline from 2006 consumption figures of 16.5 pounds, according to a NOAA Fisheries Service study. Americans consumed a total of 4.908 billion pounds of seafood last year, down slightly from 4.944 billion pounds. The United States continues to be ranked the third largest consumer of fish and shellfish, behind China and Japan.

Of the total pounds of seafood consumed per person, Americans ate 12.1 pounds of fresh and frozen finfish and shellfish, including 5 pounds of fillets and steaks — for example, Alaskan pollock, salmon, flounder and cod. Canned seafood — primarily tuna — remains at 3.9 pounds per person. Cured seafood, such as smoked salmon and dried cod, accounts for the remaining 0.3 pounds. Shrimp remains the seafood of choice.

The United States imports about 84 percent of its seafood, though imports accounted for only 63 percent of U.S. seafood just a decade ago. “While NOAA works to end overfishing and rebuild wild fish stocks, the U.S. also needs more sustainable domestic aquaculture to help meet consumer demand for healthy seafood and narrow the foreign trade gap,” says Jim Balsiger, acting assistant administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service.