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America’s Ocean Bounty: Marine Economy Surge, Secretary Says, Supports a More Climate-Ready Nation

According to a news release by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on June 6, the American marine economy continues to be a powerful engine of growth, contributing nearly $476 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2022. This robust performance, detailed in the annual Marine Economy Satellite Account (MESA) by NOAA and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), highlights the crucial role a healthy ocean plays in American prosperity.

 

“A strong, sustainable marine economy helps build a greater, more Climate-Ready Nation,” declared U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo in the news release. The Biden-Harris administration, she emphasized, is committed to “enhancing the marine economy and helping communities and ecosystems grow and thrive.”

 

Echoing this sentiment, NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D., pointed out, “These figures show how essential the Blue Economy is to American prosperity.” He further emphasized the vital role the ocean and Great Lakes play in “the overall health of America’s economy,” impacting countless aspects of daily life.

 

Tourism and recreation emerged as the most significant contributor to marine economy GDP, generating $163 billion. National defense and public administration followed closely at $149 billion, while offshore minerals contributed $62 billion. Notably, the sales sectors that witnessed the most significant growth in 2022 were ship and boat building (up 14.6%), coastal tourism and recreation (up 8.1%), and marine transportation and warehousing (up 7%).

For the first time, MESA incorporated data on wind energy and alternative power generation, offering valuable insights into the burgeoning offshore wind industry’s economic impact. Wind farm construction alone generated $161 million in sales, with alternative power generation adding another $10 million.

 

Now in its seventh year, MESA provides crucial data that not only improves national estimates for ocean, coastal and major water body economic activity across major industries, but also accounts for inflation. The data encompasses 10 key sectors that represent businesses reliant on America’s ocean, coasts and the Great Lakes.

 

“This report underscores the critical need to do whatever we can to support and bolster the marine sector,” stressed Nicole LeBoeuf, assistant administrator of NOAA’s National Ocean Service. “Our nation’s marine economy influences many aspects of our economic landscape and our daily lives, affecting regions far beyond our coasts.”

 

This comprehensive report, encompassing data from 2017 to 2022, offers the most accurate and detailed picture of the marine economy to date. The top sectors, ranked by inflation-adjusted sales and year-over-year percentage change, are as follows:

 

  1. Tourism and recreation: $220 billion (up 8.1%)
  2. National defense and public administration: $194 billion (down 2.5%)
  3. Offshore minerals: $66 billion (down 1.3%)
  4. Transportation and warehousing: $56 billion (up 7%)
  5. Living resources: $31 billion (down 6.7%)
  6. Ship and boat building: $20 billion (up 14.6%)
  7. Coastal utilities: $15 billion (down 3.2%)
  8. Research and education: $12 billion (up 4%)
  9. Professional and technical services: $8 billion (down 5.5%)
  10. Marine construction: $7 billion (up 3.1%)

 

“We can continue building a thriving marine economy for America by investing in restoration, sustainability, and working closely with stakeholders,” stated NOAA Chief Economist Monica Grasso, Ph.D. A healthy and resilient marine economy, she concluded, is essential for “uplifting our communities and driving our nation forward.”

 

The full report, data and additional information can be accessed on NOAA’s Digital Coast website at https://coast.noaa.gov/digitalcoast/data/marine-economy.html and the BEA Marine Economy website at https://www.bea.gov/data/special-topics/marine-economy. It’s important to note that the MESA statistics reflect 2022 data, taking into account data availability and the analysis process.

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