How important is the ocean to our economy?

The oceans are the trading routes for the planet.

Port of Seattle

The U.S. maritime transportation system carries 95 percent of U.S. foreign trade. Each year, ships move two billion tons of freight in and out of our nation's ports.

The U.S. economy is very dependent on healthy coastal and ocean resources. Consider the following facts:

  • 14 percent of U.S. counties that are adjacent to the coast produce 45 percent of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP), with close to three million jobs (one in 50) directly dependent on the resources of the oceans and Great Lakes.
  • In 2011, the ocean economy, which includes six economic sectors that depend on the ocean and Great Lakes, contributed more than $282 billion to the U.S. GDP and provided more than 2.8 million jobs.
  • Tourism and Recreation account for 70 percent of the ocean economy's total employment and 34 percent of its GDP. Offshore Mineral Extraction accounts for another 37 percent of the ocean economy's GDP.