Around this time each year, NOAA publishes its annual report entitled Fisheries Economics of the United States.

The information inside is the most current analysis — the facts, figures, and trends — which summarizes how recreational and commercial saltwater fishing impacts the United States economy. This year’s report spans the decade between 2007 and 2016.

Fishing is big business. Recreational anglers buy tackle, rent or buy boats, pay charter or guide fees, buy fuel, stay in hotels for overnight fishing trips, and some lucky ones even buy second homes to be even closer to their favorite fishing destinations.

Most fish caught by commercial fishermen end up on a dinner plate. They are sold to restaurants or grocery stores. Other commercial catches are bought by factories that manufacture pet food, vitamins or medicines. From the commercial sale of sea scallops and lobster to charter fishing trips in Biscayne Bay, there’s money to be made, to the tune of about $39 billion in 2016.

Some of the highlights of this year’s reports include one-half of the total expenditure on tackle ($1.8 billion) was made in Florida, 57 percent of sea scallop landings (23 million pounds) were caught in Massachusetts and the largest increases in commercial landings were for lobster and menhaden.

While Maryland doesn’t make any of the top-10 lists in the report, it does come in a respectable No. 11 for number of jobs supported by the recreational fishing industry, about 8,000 jobs. Number 1 on that list, Florida, supports 95,000 jobs. That’s not surprising considering the most charter fishing trips were hired out of that state as well.

I bet you can guess what state caught the most striped bass. Striped bass isn’t Maryland’s state fish for nothing.

Actually, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Virginia all lay claim to the striped bass as their state fish as well. But only one state can be Number 1, and the Old Line State had that honor with 5.1 million.

Do you wonder where all the flounder have moved? New Jersey must be to their liking, since they caught the most — 6.9 million. Our neighbor Virginia caught the most Atlantic croaker and spot in 2016.

I bet you can also guess the most valuable species for Maryland’s commercial fishermen. The big three were blue crabs, oysters and striped bass.

In 2016, oysters commanded the largest price per pound at $13.83. The price of rockfish more than doubled in the last decade, going for an average of $4.15 in 2016. Lowly menhaden commands just 16 cents per pound in Maryland.

And those trends? Menhaden landings in the Gulf of Mexico were up due to lower global production of sardines and anchovies. All three kinds of fish are used to make fishmeal and fish oil.

Without enough sardines and anchovies, menhaden harvest had to increase, to the highest level since 2011.

DNR announces oyster recovery, restoration contracts

Some excellent news came out of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources last week.

More than $3 million will be invested in oyster recovery and restoration in the Chesapeake By and its tributaries. Three programs will be supported by these funds.

One contract will construct and restore oyster reefs as part of the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement that requires Maryland to restore native oyster habitat and populations in five tributaries by 2025. Efforts will be focused in the Little Choptank, Manokin, Tred Avon and Upper St. Mary’s rivers.

Another contract will fund construction and restoration of oyster reefs in the Nanticoke and Severn rivers. Approximately 70 million oysters will be planted in the Nanticoke Sanctuary under this contract.

On a good traffic day, it would take about four hours to drive from Solomons to the banks of the Nanticoke River. But as the crow flies — or the boat cruises — the distance is only about 35 miles. I like the idea of 70 million more oysters filtering the water the tide moves around.

The third contract will support the Marylanders Grow Oysters program to construct and restore oyster reefs in sanctuaries.

A minimum of six million hatchery oysters will be produced and distributed to waterfront residents who will grow the young oysters in cages until they are ready to be planted in local sanctuary reefs.

If you’re a waterfront property owner and this sounds like something you’d like to get involved in, go to

The roster is already full this year, but you can fill out an online form to be considered for 2019.

Follow safe boating tips if heading out

Around here, many folks have their boats laid up for the winter months. Kayakers, however, don’t have to winterize and, when the sun is shining, can heed the call of Mother Nature to venture outdoors and get on the water.

The bright sunshine doesn’t mean that the water is warm, though, so cold water safety applies even to paddlers. Follow a few safe boating tips from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to make sure your trip doesn’t end in tragedy.

Don’t just use your life jacket as a seat cushion. Several manufacturers make life jackets with backs that don’t interfere with a kayak seat.

Be proficient at reboarding your kayak, especially if you are paddling in a lake or river where getting to shore to re-board would be difficult. Remember, you’re not going to be able to swim very far in cold water.

Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return. Even better, paddle with a buddy. And, finally, check the weather report often.