Oceans & Coastal Resources:
A Briefing Book
Congressional Research Service Report 97-588 ENR
Redistributed as a service of the National Library for the Environment

Selected U.S. Ocean and Coastal Data


Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) area:
Total EEZ: 3.36 million square nautical miles

Estuarine Drainage Area:
261,003 square miles (676,000 square kilometers)

Coastal Wetlands:
32,432 square miles (84,000 square kilometers), approximately 12% of total estuarine drainage area

(statute miles)
Exclusive Economic Zone
(square nautical miles)
Conterminous only: 4,993
Atlantic 2,069 253,800
Gulf 1,631 186,200
Pacific* 1,293 236,800
Alaska (total) 6,640 950,000
Hawaii 750 695,000
Caribbean** 441 58,400
Pacific*** 335 981,000
Total 13,056 3,362,600

* Excluding Hawaii, Alaska, American Samoa, Guam, and other U.S. insular areas.
** Including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
*** Including only American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Island.




U.S. fisheries accounted for 6% of total world commercial fishery landings in 1989.
5.506 million tons (4.995 million metric tons) valued at $3.89 billion were landed by U.S. commercial fishermen in 1990.
92,900 craft were used in commercial fishing activities in 1988.
Approximately 274,000 men and women were engaged in commercial fishing full-time in 1988. An additional 90,000 persons were employed by 4,600 processors and wholesalers of fishery products.

Recreational marine fisheries: (data from Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts only)

Approximately 17 million U.S. marine recreational fishermen made 39.8 million fishing trips.
Approximately 231 million fish -- roughly 157,300 tons (143 million kilograms) -- were caught
86% of these fishing trips occurred within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of shore.



Offshore Oil and Gas Production

1.65 million square nautical miles of Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). (This is the federal portion of the U.S. EEZ plus Continental Shelf Extensions by the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.)
In 1989, 50,952 square miles of the OCS were under lease. Of that, 12,198 square miles were under exploration, development, or production for oil and gas.
8.5 billion barrels of oil and condensate were produced from federal waters in the OCS between 1954 and 1989.
86.87 trillion cubic feet (2.46 trillion cubic meters) of natural gas were produced from federal waters in the OCS between 1954 and 1989.

Year Crude Oil
(billion barrels)
Natural Gas
(billion cubic feet)
1954 3.302 60.04
1972 411.856 3000.01
1989 305.169 4200.01


Oil Spills Investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1982, 1986, and 1989

Year Vessels*
1982 90,466 157,126 247,592
1986 80,943 30,952 111,896
1989 323,774 ** 14,284 338,058

* Includes tankships, tank barges and other vessels.
** On March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez spilled 257,115 barrels of crude oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound.

Source: United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. United States of America National Report, Oceans and Coastal Resources Section. 1992. pp.250-251.

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