Vibrant Human Quality of Life
Economic Vitality
Natural resource industry output
Vital Sign Indicator
Dollar ($)

No targets are currently set for this indicator.

Rabia Ahmed
Contributing Partners
Last Updated
10/26/2022 10:57:38 AM
Agricultural and timber product value, and GDP of coastal recreation and tourism by county. Expand the layer list to turn on and off Economic Vitality layers for each sector. Click on a county for more information. Note that recreation and tourism values are reported only for zip codes that are adjacent to coastal areas. Timber and agricultural sales are estimated by the proportion of relevant land use within the Puget Sound area.

This indicator tracks the output of Puget Sound’s natural resource industries, such as fishing, shellfish aquaculture, agriculture, timber, and tourism and recreation. The data collected will help us understand the viability of natural resource industries in the Puget Sound region over time.

Vital Sign Indicator Chart

Natural resource product values by industry. Values are in millions 2019 constant dollars.

This indicator will help us understand the viability of natural resource industries in the Puget Sound region over time. A precipitous decline in output for these industries may indicate displacement of opportunities for employment in these sectors, a removal of wage earners from the natural environment, and negative impacts to those for whom these industries contribute to or determine a sense of place.

Key Vital Sign Indicator Results
  • Since 2005, the combined value of natural resource industry products has fluctuated showing mixed results since patterns differ across the industries.
  • Combined product value (prices paid to producers for unprocessed timber, fish, shellfish, crops and livestock) averaged about $1.7 billion ($2019) annually from 2005 through 2019, with mixed trends.
  • Shellfish aquaculture landed values peaked in 2009 and 2013 with values of approximately $78 million and $77 million ($2019), respectively. The values from 2014 through 2019 ranged between $55 million and $72 million ($2019).
  • Commercial fishing value (finfish and shellfish) trended upward from $71 million in 2005 to $163 million in 2011 ($2019), then declined until 2014 followed by relatively stable values between $110 million and $114 million through 2017 ($2019). These values declined significantly from the 2017 amount to just over $63 million in 2018 and about $69 million in 2019 ($2019). This was driven by a decrease in finfish numbers partly due to low coho returns and resulting fishery closures.
  • Timber production values show a sharp downward swing between 2007 and 2010 with a recovery in more recent years, reaching a peak value of over $241 million ($2019) in 2019.
  • With the exception of a decline from 2005 to 2007, the value of agricultural products has remained relatively flat.
  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from Puget Sound-related tourism and recreation activities has shown a significant upward trend (with the exception of 2008 and 2009), reaching an estimated $5.7 billion ($2019) in 2019.
Monitoring Program

Data are collected and made publicly available by government agencies. Each data source and agency has their own protocols and methodologies for data collection and reporting, and these methodologies may be changed or updated over time. We will report changes as we learn of them, as such changes may bias trends reported here.

Data Source

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Economics: National Ocean Watch; Pacific Fisheries Information Network (PacFIN)Washington State Department of Revenue (WADOR)US Department of Agriculture (USDA)

The annual value of timber is derived from the Washington State Department of Revenue (WADOR) forest excise tax distributions. The 5 percent WADOR tax is assessed on the stumpage value at the time of harvest, and captures activity on state, federal, and private lands. The value of agricultural products is reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) census of agriculture every five years. Figure 2 provides a trend between the 2002, 2007, 2012, and 2017 data. The agricultural census reports the market value of agricultural products sold which includes crops (including nursery and greenhouse crops) and livestock, poultry, and their products.

The geographical scope of the Puget Sound Partnership includes all counties adjoining the Puget Sound basin. The outer coast of the state is not included. To restrict annual timber and agricultural value estimates appropriately, WADNR forest practice and WSDA agricultural land use maps were intersected with county and Puget Sound Partnership boundaries. The percentage of timber or agricultural land use that fell within the Puget Sound area was used to draw a proportion of total county sales.

The value of fishing and aquaculture products is provided through Pacific Fisheries Information Network (PacFIN). PacFIN data reported here is the “ex-vessel” value received by fisherman for fish and shellfish caught in the Puget Sound catch areas, and landed in Puget Sound counties. Because of sensitivity in data reporting, fish and shellfish value includes both tribal and non-tribal fishing activity. Aquaculture value consists of farmed shellfish, while fishing value includes wild caught shellfish including crab and shrimp, as well as finfish.

Coastal recreation and tourism is made up of many sectors including boat dealers, restaurants, hotels and lodging, marinas, RV parks and campsites, water tours, sporting goods, recreational services, zoos, and aquaria. Many of these subsectors provide services whose production value cannot be measured as precisely at the local level as a single commodity like timber or fish.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a measure of all goods and services associated within an industry, was estimated for coastal tourism at the zip code level by NOAA Office for Coastal Management’s Economics: National Ocean Watch program (ENOW) using ratios of state level sector GDP, state level sector wages, and zip code level sector wages.

Recreation and tourism GDP in Jefferson and Clallam counties accounted for $177 million ($2019) on average annually from 2005 to 2019. However, those counties are not included in the recreation figure here because their recreational activity cannot be accurately divided between the Puget Sound and Pacific coast. Additionally, GDP in Thurston County is not estimated by ENOW because the portion of coastal tourism and recreation that can be attributed to the Puget Sound versus the professional and political activity at the state’s capital is unclear. For these reasons, recreation and tourism estimates above should be considered conservative.

The Puget Sound region includes the following counties: Clallam County, Island County, Jefferson County, King County, Kitsap County, Lewis County, Mason County, Pierce County, San Juan County, Skagit County, Snohomish County, Thurston County, and Whatcom County. Since only a small portion of Lewis County is within the Puget Sound watershed, Lewis County is only included in the timber industry data.

Critical Definitions
Interpretation of Results

The figure below shows the combined product value of natural resource products in Puget Sound.

Resource product value for natural resource industries in Puget Sound. Values are in millions 2019 constant dollars.

The figure below shows estimated recreation and tourism GDP for coastal zip codes in the Puget Sound Management Area. With the exception of 2008 and 2009, estimated recreation and tourism GDP in Puget Sound-adjacent zip codes have shown strong overall growth, averaging $3.9 billion ($2019) annually from 2005 to 2019, and $5.7 billion ($2019) in 2019.

Estimated GDP of recreation and tourism in Puget Sound. Values are in millions 2019 constant dollars. Industries include boat dealers, restaurants, hotels and lodging, marinas, RV parks and campsites, water tours, sporting goods, recreational services, zoos, and aquariums.


Declines in shellfish aquaculture production value from 2013 to 2014 can be mainly attributed to the 2013 ban from China on Puget Sound geoduck imports. However, the ban was lifted in 2014, which corresponds to a turning point in value in 2015.

The downward swing in timber production value may not only be due to the great recession and decline in housing starts but to the amount of land in timber production, growth and mortality, management costs including taxes and regulatory compliance, perceived risks due to markets and regulation, strength of domestic and international markets for forest products, and varying management objectives of very diverse types of timber ownership. These factors may also be in part what are driving general increases in production value since 2010.

Decline in commercial fishing employment also confirms the decrease in production values since 2011. There is some suggestion that the decline in production value (finfish and shellfish) is due in part to drought and low runs during those years. The total value of commercially-caught shellfish more than doubled in 12 years from $45 million ($2019) in 2005 to $92 million ($2019) in 2017 before dipping in 2018 and a slight recovery in 2019. From 2014 to 2015 alone, total finfish value declined from $29 million ($2019) to $15 million ($2019). Commercial fishing value (finfish and shellfish) declined significantly from $114 million in 2017 to $63 million in 2018 and went up a slightly to about $69 million in 2019 ($2019). This was driven by a decrease in finfish numbers resulting in part from low coho returns and resulting fishery closures.

Increases in tourism and recreational GDP may be a result of increased consumer demand for farm to table destination dining, cruises ship and tribal casinos, increased outdoor recreation access such as kayaking and stand up paddle boarding, and development of tourism infrastructure such as hotels and VRBO accommodations. Some part of this increased demand suggest that there is a consumer willingness to pay for the nonmarket attributes of the Puget Sound ecosystem such as recreation, aesthetics, and culture.

Northern Economics, Inc. The Economic Impact of Shellfish Aquaculture in Washington, Oregon and California. Prepared for Pacific Shellfish Institute. April 2013.

Briceno, T., Schundler, G. Economic Analysis of Outdoor Recreation in Washington State. Earth Economics, Tacoma, WA. Prepared for Washington Recreation and Conservation Office Olympia, WA. January 2015.


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