How important is the ocean to our economy?

The ocean is the trading route for the planet.

Port of Seattle

In 2017, the U.S. maritime transportation system carried $1.6 trillion of cargo through U.S. seaports to and from our international trading partners.

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

  • Fourteen percent of U.S. counties that are adjacent to the coast produce 45 percent of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP), with over three million jobs (one in 45) directly dependent on the resources of the oceans and Great Lakes.
  • In 2017, the ocean economy, which includes six economic sectors that depend on the ocean and Great Lakes, contributed $307 billion to the U.S. GDP and supported 3.3 million jobs.
  • Tourism and recreation account for 73 percent of the ocean economy's total employment and 42 percent of its GDP. Offshore mineral extraction accounts for another 25 percent of the ocean economy's GDP.
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