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Shrimp Tops Canned Tuna in U.S.

August 28, 2002

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Sorry tuna hot dish, you’re number two now. Shrimp has become the nation’s favorite seafood, boosted by eager etouffee eaters and poppers of popcorn prawns.

``For the first time in recorded history, Americans are eating more shrimp than canned tuna,″ the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration proclaimed Wednesday. Records go back to the mid-1950s.

The National Marine Fisheries Service’s annual assessment of the population’s piscatorial preferences showed that Americans ate a record average of 3.4 pounds of shrimp last year.

That was up from 3.2 pounds the year before.

During the same period canned tuna _ long the reigning seafood _ plunged from 3.5 pounds per capita to 2.9 pounds.

Randi Thomas of the U.S. Tuna Foundation said that growing sales of fresh tuna account for some of the decline in sales of the canned product.

In addition, she said, delicatessen sales account for a lot of canned tuna and after the terrorist attacks last fall there was a sharp decline in business at delis, especially in New York.

Overall consumption of fish and shellfish dipped last year, from 15.2 pounds to 14.8 pounds, NOAA’s fisheries service reported.

Canned seafood consumption fell from 4.7 pounds to 4.2 pounds per person, while consumption of fresh and frozen seafood edged up, from 10.2 pounds to 10.3 pounds. The amount of cured seafood eaten was unchanged at 0.3 pounds per person.

Fish filets and steaks _ including all types of fish _ totaled 3.4 pounds per person, a 0.1 pound increase; while fish sticks and portions fell slightly from 0.9 pound to 0.8 pound.

According to figures from the United Nations, in total sales, the United States is the world’s third largest consumer of fish and shellfish, behind China and Japan.

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On the Net:

National Marine Fisheries Service: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov.

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