Seafood is a big catch for New Jersey's economy.


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According to the latest numbers from the state Department of Agriculture, New Jersey's commercial fishermen landed more than 180 million pounds of seafood, valued at nearly $190 million, in 2012. The dollar signs multiply when considering exports and sales at grocery stores and markets across the state.

In the meantime, the industry provides tens of thousands of jobs to New Jersey residents.

Secretary of Agriculture Doug Fisher said scallops are the state's "number one catch" and New Jersey annually ranks towards the top for scallop numbers nationwide.

"Also, we have many fin fish and, of course, lobster," Fisher added.

He said New Jersey has been benefiting as well from its aquaculture efforts -- farming shellfish such as clams and oysters in protected environments. Some of the yields can command very high prices due to their quality.

The state's top seafood chef, Jeffry Wierzbicki of Winberie's in Summit, is set to prepare a New Jersey Scallop BLT as New Jersey's entry in the Great American Seafood Cook Off in New Orleans on Saturday.

"The dish is New Jersey on a plate," Wierzbicki said in a press release.