image Speed Dating with the Coastal and Ocean Economies

Hi, I’m the Coastal Economy

Coastal Economy data from NOAA's State of the Coast

Nice to meet you! I also go by total economy of coastal areas and I include all economic activities occurring in a coastal area. These activities include everything from marine transportation and commercial fishing to banking and home construction. Some of these things only occur along the coast, while other activities can occur anywhere in the nation. I have been called “…our nation’s economic engine,” and I employ over 50 million people and account for over $6.6 Trillion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).


Ahoy There, I’m the Ocean Economy

Economics: National Ocean Watch provides time-series data on the ocean and Great Lakes economy, which includes six economic sectors dependent on the oceans and Great Lakes

I am the part of the economy that depends on the resources of the oceans, bays, and Great Lakes. I’m a subset of the total economy and include things like commercial fishing, marine transportation, and ship and boat building. These activities are included in the coastal economy, but are spread across many general economic sectors. Nationally, I employ almost 3 million people and produce almost $300 billion in GDP. While I might not have the same name recognition of some, I actually employ more people than telecommunications, construction activities, and crop production combined!


You Both Seem Nice and All, but Who Should I Choose?

Beach Heart from Wikimedia Commons

Hmm, both are good choices, but it depends on what you are looking for. Do your turn-ons include the potential impacts to the water quality, policies that affect the tax base of coastal areas, or climatological hazards such as hurricanes and sea level rise? Well, the Coastal Economy might be the one for you!

Or do you prefer policies that focus on preserving the functions and services of the ecosystems of the coasts, oceans, and Great Lakes? Want to know how many people depend on the oceans and Great Lakes for work and how conflicts between uses of these resources could impact the economy? Well, the Oceans and Great Lakes economy is waving at you!

No matter your preference, it is extremely important to understand the make-up of the coastal and ocean economies to help inform decisions. The coastal shoreline counties of the United States are far more densely populated than the rest of the country. These counties produce 45 percent of the nation’s GDP, with close to three million jobs directly dependent on the resources of the oceans and Great Lakes. Both of these economies—economic production at the coast and the more narrowly defined ocean and Great Lakes-dependent economy—have significant interrelated policy implications.

So…Who’d you choose?


Gabe Sataloff

I am a reformed database administrator who now works in the Human Dimensions program doing GIS work with data about people. While I work with data about people, I'm not normally allowed to talk TO people since I am a former database administrator. I started with my GIS work at a small college in the hinterlands of upstate New York before deciding to move to the warmer climate of South Carolina, getting a Masters of Environmental Science at the College of Charleston as a consequence. The College of Knowledge is where I really got my GIS chops, working on things from mapping bobcats on a barrier island to creating an interactive campus map. I was lucky enough to get an internship at the NOAA Office for Coastal Management straight out of grad school, and thus began the circuitous path from spatial analyst to general tech geek to database administrator to spatial analyst. Now I spend my days clicking buttons and looking at maps about things like ocean economics and social vulnerability.


  1. Hi Gabe, I enjoyed your blog. The maps are very nice. Your data are a bit out of date though. You have the latest ENOW numbers. Let me know if you want the updated coastal economy series (1997-2014), The 2015 data should be on the website in late July.


Leave a Reply. Comments are moderated.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.