America’s maritime economy is firmly in the black, according to the first-ever “blue economy” report from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

According to the report, released June 8, the marine economy generated $397 billion to the United States’ gross domestic product in 2019. That sector grew at a 4.2 percent clip from 2018, nearly double the growth of the country’s entire GDP over the same timeframe.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said the marine economy will continue to play an important role in helping the country rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“President Biden sees the immense value and potential of strengthening America’s blue economy, and this administration will continue to take actions to combat the climate crisis, conserve our oceans, and protect our coastal communities,” she said in a statement.

The release of the report took place on World Oceans Day, established by the United Nations in 2008.

However, the report looks at more than just the oceans for the United States. It also looks at the contributions from businesses on the country’s shores, including the Great Lakes. NOAA and the Bureau of Economic Analysis determined that businesses classified as being a part of the U.S. marine economy generated $665.7 billion in sales and supported 2.4 million jobs in 2019.

Commercial fishing, including aquaculture, contributed $27 billion toward the marine economy, according to the report. That made it the sixth-largest segment of the “blue economy.”

Tourism and recreation, which includes recreational fishing, was the top-producing segment, contributing $235 billion. Other key sectors include national defense and public administration, at $180 billion; offshore minerals at $93 billion; and transportation and warehousing at $64 billion.

“These statistics are further proof that our waters are vital for America’s economy,” Nicole LeBoeuf, acting director of NOAA’s National Ocean Service, said. “It is nearly impossible to go a single day without eating, wearing, or using items that come from or through our ports and coastal communities.”

This article was originally published on SeafoodSource.com and is republished here with permission.

Steve Bittenbender works as a freelance journalist based in Louisville, Kentucky. Besides working for SeafoodSource.com as a contributing editor, Steve also works as an editor for Government Security News and as the Kentucky correspondent for the Reuters News Service.

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