Companies in this industry catch wild finfish, shellfish, and other marine products from their natural habitats. Major companies include Trident Seafood (based in the US), Cooke Aquaculture (Canada), Maruha Nichiro (Japan), and Nippon Suisan Kaisha (Japan). Large commercial fishing companies tend to be vertically integrated, encompassing fishing, freezing, and processing operations; smaller companies may have fishing operations only.
Demand is driven by domestic trends in fish consumption and competition from imports. The profitability of individual companies depends on maximizing yield without depleting stocks. Industrial fisheries have advantages in fleet size and access to experienced crew members. Small-scale and “artisan” fisheries can compete effectively by serving a local market or by specializing in ultra-fresh fish. The US industry is highly fragmented: more than 90% of companies operate a single establishment and have four or fewer employees.
Products, Operations & Technology
Finfish account for about two-thirds of the value of global trade; shellfish (crustaceans and mollusks) account for the remainder. Major finfish products include salmons, trouts, and smelts (about 17% of global trade by value); tunas, bonitos, and billfishes (about 10%); and cods, hakes, and haddocks (also about 10%). Shrimps and prawns are the leading shellfish products, together accounting for about 15% of global trade by value.