The federal government has closed commercial and recreational fishing in a wide swath of the Gulf as a result of the oil spill, which is a serious economic blow to the region.
Gulf fisheries are some of the most productive in the world. In 2008 according to the National Marine Fisheries Service, the commercial fish and shellfish harvest from the five U.S. Gulf states was estimated to be 1.3 billion pounds valued at $661 million.
The Gulf also contains four of the top seven fishing ports in the nation by weight and eight of the top 20 fishing ports in the nation by dollar value. Commercially important species in the Gulf of Mexico include: blue crab, stone crab, crawfish, groupers, menhaden, mullets, oyster, shrimp, red snapper, and tunas.
Gulf landings of shrimp led the nation in 2008 with 188.8 million pounds valued at $367 million dockside, accounting for about 73% of U.S. total. Louisiana led all Gulf states with 89.3 million pounds; Texas with 63.8 million pounds; Alabama with 17.2 million pounds; Florida (west coast) with 9.9 million pounds; and Mississippi with 8.6 million pounds.
The Gulf led in production of oysters in 2008 with 20.6 million pounds of meats valued at $60.2 million and representing 59% of the national total.
The Gulf also supports a productive recreational fishery. In 2008, marine recreational participants took more than 24.1 million trips catching 190 million fish from the Gulf of Mexico and surrounding waters. The total weigh in pounds was over 73.6 million in 2008. In 2006, 28% of all U.S. marine recreational fishing trips were taken in the Gulf.