U.S. seafood catch at a 17-year high
MADEIRA BEACH --
2011 was quite a year for commercial fisherman across the country.
The U.S. seafood catch reached a 17-year high, and Gulf of Mexico fisherman broke some records as well.
Dean Pruitt has been a commercial fisherman in Pinellas County for 30 years.
Pruitt has several boats, they go out for days, and during a good year they bring back thousands of pounds of fish at a time.
“Getting that fresh local fish means a lot like Frenchy’s seafood, Crabby Bill’s, and Dockside Dave’s,” said Dean Pruitt.
New numbers show all of the fishing regions in the country saw an increase in volume and value of their harvest in 2011.
In the Gulf, it was the best year since 1999.
“That means the average person can eat more fresh fish off the boat locally, you know. Before you would go to a restaurant and ask the guy at the restaurant is the fish local? No it’s imported,” said Pruitt.
Pruitt said the fishing in the Gulf is quite different than it was just a couple of years shortly after the oil spill.
Pruitt said safe fishing waters aren’t the only improvement.
He said a 10-year plan to regulate the business has allowed the fish to multiply in bunches. This means there’s more fish out there to catch.
“It put stiff regulations where we just couldn’t catch what we wanted,” Pruitt said, “and now just fishing is so good I say fishing is twice as good as it was five years ago.”
Pruitt spent this Sunday afternoon waiting for his latest boat to come in.
The boat had about 10,000 pounds of his yearly grouper quota onboard, an indication 2012 is also going to be one to remember.
In all, last year’s Gulf catch was about two billion pounds.
Although more has been caught, Americans ate 15 pounds of seafood on average in 2011, down about a pound from 2010.