Marine economy adds billions to national GDP

Fishing vessels near Cordova Harbor. (May 16, 2021) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

Reports from two federal Commerce Department agencies note that America’s marine economy contributed some $361 billion to America’s gross domestic product in 2020.

The annual Marine Economy Satellite Account released in early June by NOAA and the Bureau of Economic Analysis said those figures are from the first year of the coronavirus pandemic and represented a $23 billion reduction from 2019, outpacing the general economy’s decline of 3.4%.

NOAA and BEA described 10 sectors representing businesses dependent on the nation’s ocean, coasts and Great Lakes from 2014 through 2020. Businesses included in the report generated a total of $610 billion in sales and supported 2.2 million jobs in 2020.

Sectors that showed a decline from 2019 included coastal tourism and recreation at $191 billion for 2020, offshore minerals at $97 billion; marine transportation, $54 billion; ship and boat building, $16 billion; coastal utilities, $15 billion; marine construction, $7 billion; and professional and technical services, $6 billion.

Three sectors that saw growth were national defense and public administration $187 billion; living resources, including fisheries and other biological products, $27 billion; and research and education $11 billion.

“From shipping and maritime commerce to travel and tourism, the health of the marine economy touches the lives of every American,” Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo said. “Supporting the maritime economy while also addressing the climate crisis is an essential and existential component of the Commerce Department’s work to create the conditions for economic growth and opportunity.”

“These numbers are stark proof of just how tied the blue economy is to the prosperity of the rest of our nation,” said Nicole LeBoeuf, director of NOAA’s National Ocean Service. “What happens in this sector has ripple effects through the entire nation, which relies on America’s blue economy as a driver of jobs, innovation and economic growth.”

“Of particular note, the marine-based pharmacy industry, one of the components of the Living Resources sector, had an increase of almost 50% in sales, due to the approval of new marine-based drugs for cancer treatment,” said Monica Grasso, NOAA chief economist. “Such gains can contribute to President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot initiative to reignite progress in cancer research and treatments.”