Fishing brings $346 million into Newport area economy

November 11, 2021

A comprehensive look at fishing’s place in Lincoln County’s economy reveals a growing impact on the area’s earned income through 2019.

The Resource Group, LLC, of Corvallis, took a deep dive into the financial indicators surrounding both commercial and recreational fishing, as well as related and connected activities, and produced a clear picture of the pre-pandemic seafood scene.

To read an executive summary, click on the image.

“Fishing Industry Economic Activity Trends in the Newport, Oregon Area” was commissioned by the Lincoln County Commission and Midwater Trawlers Cooperative (MTC), which represents 29 vessels, most of which are homeported in Newport. The effort was viewed as an update to an economic study performed by the same firm in 2012, which focused more broadly on the county economy.

That historic information gave researchers a good point of comparison and what they found was that, in 2012, commercial fishing accounted for 9.9 percent of Lincoln County’s earned income. By 2019, that figure had grown to 14.2 percent.

Lincoln County Commissioner Kaety Jacobson said an up-to-date look at the industry was what motivated the county to back the study.

“Unlike a lot of other economic data, commercial fishing data can change rapidly from year to year and especially in a five year or more period. Changing regulations, changing ocean conditions, a lost market and many other variables can drastically shift catch rates and price,” she explained. “Having updated information allows us and the community to better understand where the industry is at and what it is currently facing,” Jacobson noted.

Combining commercial and recreational fishing, the study estimated the total economic contribution to the local economy at $176 millionin income in 2019, but there was even more to take into consideration.

Report author Shannon Davis and his team looked at more than just the immediate income of those working directly with fishing boats. They also looked at marine-related businesses and reports from past years that documented the impact of those activities connected to fishing and adjusted them for 2019 dollars. The total related and connected economic contribution is estimated to be an additional $170 million in income.

The combination of fishing industry income and the adjusted figures for related and connected activities income resulted in a total income of $346 million, according to the report. This represents 7,400 jobs, according to Davis.

Documenting tangible impact and real figures was important to the report’s sponsors.

“Newport has always been very fishing oriented but more so than ever we are becoming the only one-stop authentic working waterfront,” said Heather Mann, MTC executive director. “With three shipyards in Lincoln County, multiple gear and marine supply shops, the net shop, and both large and small seafood processors, this area is not only a hub for all things fishing, we are a tourist destination because of it. We thought there was a real lack of understanding by some former port officials, state legislators, and others about the importance of our fishing fleets as a critical piece of the rural economy,” she added.

 Those who are interested in commercial fishing will find a number of fascinating factoids in the report. For instance, in 2019, the total harvest value was $59.3 million, of which Dungeness crab accounted for 42.1 percent of value, followed by Pacific whiting at 14.4 percent, pink shrimp at 11.7 percent, groundfish (other than sablefish and whiting) was 8.4 percent, followed closely by sablefish and Albacore tuna – both making up 8.3 percent of the harvest value. Salmon, Pacific halibut, and other species make up the balance.

The contribution of recreational fishing was also a part of the study. Total ocean and lower river spending in the Newport area, which includes Depoe Bay and Alsea Bay, was estimated at $23 million in 2019, and that did not include touring.

The report’s sponsors say the document should serve as a useful resource. Mann envisions a number of ways in which it might be helpful.

“By making the report and its findings available, others can use the data for local economic development opportunities. For instance, ports could use the information to help support grant requests, legislators can use it to justify investment opportunities, banks and lenders can use the information to help informing lending, and county commissioners and city councils of Newport and Toledo can use the information to support decision making and investments,” she noted.

Jacobson said she is hopeful that the report will be widely read and understood, since it sheds light on an industry that is not well known by some.

“The tourism industry, our second largest identified earned income sector, is visible when you see tourists in town, at restaurants, and on the beach. But commercial fishing, which is our largest identified earned income sector, is largely invisible to the community. Understanding the numbers helps people realize the industry’s worth and how it benefits our community,” the commissioner commented.

    

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Jan. 16, 2023

By Rick Osborn, Oregon Coast Visitors Association

Buying local seafood promotes human rights.

TILLAMOOK – When consumers sit down for dinner, they don’t necessarily think about whether anyone was harmed in the making of their meals.

But in some cases, the seafood on our very plates carries the legacy of human rights abuses. Seafood imported from overseas has been linked to labor abuse, human trafficking and illegal fishing practices. Eating Oregon seafood is the best way to know that no one was purposely harmed to bring delicious foods to consumers’ plates.

A recent study commissioned by the Oregon Coast Visitors Association – the destination management organization serving the entire Oregon Coast from Washington to California – found shockingly that about 90 percent of the seafood consumed on the coast is imported from other distant domestic and international sources.

In 2021, nine of the 10 top countries importing seafood into Oregon are characterized as medium to high risks on the Global Slavery Index. Illegal seafood accounts for $2.4 billion (11 percent) of sales in 2019. In fact, Oregon’s top seafood importer – China – has ranked as the top country whose policies are contributing to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. An estimated 1,800 pounds of wild-caught fish are stolen from global seas every second due to these kinds of practices.

In response to these and other factors affecting the environment and Oregon coastal economy, OCVA has launched the Ocean Cluster Initiative. The initiative aims to help the Oregon Coast’s communities keep local seafood local in order to capture more economic and environmental value from the catch, as well as promote human rights.

“Respect for people of all countries and cultures as well as the ability to travel freely and safely are core values of tourism,” Oregon Coast Visitors Association Executive Director Marcus Hinz said. “Therefore, directing the purchasing power of our industry towards products and services which are in direct contradiction to our values makes no logical sense, particularly when we possess the ability to clearly differentiate high-quality Oregon seafood products from low-quality, imported seafood tainted by highly suspect human rights violations.”

According to a 2022 report by The Outlaw Ocean Project, cell phone videos were found dating back to 2014 that capture dramatically the murder of multiple deck hands onboard vessels in international waters. It has become well documented that in other countries individuals are often kidnapped and forced to work as slaves onboard vessels. One tuna long-liner, called the Indian Star, is owned by a Taiwanese company and flagged to Seychelles. It has a long history of violations, including forged licenses and fishing in forbidden areas. The captain of that boat was convicted and sentenced to 26 years in prison for ordering the killing of several deckhands.

A report by The New York Times published in September noted that many other countries’ fishermen and others are throwing false GPS coordinates to hide their actual locations. Chinese fishing fleets use technology to hide their operations in protected waters off South America. The same technology is used to conceal stops in Iranian oil ports, smuggling weapons and drugs and other illegal activities. With international waters seemingly operating as the “wild west,” one way to discourage such behaviors and eliminate human rights violations on the open sea is to be diligent about supporting Oregon seafood.

While Oregon’s top-quality products tend to be exported, the state imported about $105 million in seafood in 2021. In the meantime, Oregon Coast visitors spend about $840 million on food stores and food services annually, according to a 2019 Dean Runyan and Associates study. While a massive amount of locally sourced seafood is exported, it is replaced on visitors’ plates by internationally harvested seafood that may be linked to crimes. Buying local products discourages acts of piracy, human rights violations and a number of other crimes that have become rampant out on the international high seas. It also supports jobs right here in Oregon.

“Oregon’s fisheries are the lifeblood of our coastal and tourism economies – supporting jobs that families rely on and supplying communities across our state and around the world with exceptional products and experiences,” Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., said. “I’m thrilled the USDA has recognized the important work the Oregon Coast Visitors Association does for both Oregon’s fishing and aquaculture industry, as well as our great state’s tourism industry. The grant OCVA has received will support its important work, helping to establish and strengthen the much-needed infrastructure for our fisheries to efficiently operate and thrive, and help our tourism industry bounce back stronger than ever.”

For more information about the program, those interested can go online to https://oregonseafare.com/human-rights.