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The Delaware Estuary: By The Numbers

A recent report puts a value on the Delaware Estuary -- using a wide variety of measures.

The Delaware Estuary Watershed is the tidal portion of the Delaware River Basin, home to 200 species of fish, the continent’s second-highest concentration of shorebirds, and more than 400,000 acres of wetlands. It also is an economic engine for the region stretching downstream from Trenton to the Delaware Bay, creating an estimated $10 billion in annual economic activity and a half-million jobs, according to a study by the University of Delaware for the nonprofit Partnership for the Delaware Estuary.

$10 billion: Using economic activity as a measure, the value of the Delaware Estuary as a result of recreation, water quality, forests, hunting and fishing, agriculture and parks.

$12 billion: Using ecosystems as a measure, the projected value of the Delaware Estuary, including watershed products like drinking water and fish, as well as the economic benefits nature provides, such as water filtration, flood reduction and carbon storage.

$1.3 billion: Using employment as a measure, the Delaware Estuary indirectly supports more than 500,000 jobs earning more than $1 billion in annual wages.

2 percent: Although it occupies just 0.2 percent of the continental United States, the Delaware Estuary supplies drinking water to 2 percent of the nation’s population, providing $1.3 billion in value.

6,000: Amount of square miles in the watershed, which accounts for 26 percent of New Jersey’s land area and is home to 35 percent of its population. If the Delaware Estuary watershed were a state, it would be the 13th most populous, just after Virginia.

325,000: The growth in population in the estuary during the past decade, a rate of 5.1 percent.

1,857: The number of square miles of forested land in the Delaware Estuary watershed, or about 28 percent of it.

$34 million: The annual value of commercial fish landings in the estuary, with blue crab leading the way at $14 million

$812 million: The estimated economic value of fishing, hunting and wildlife-associated recreation annually.

$2.5 billion: The annual market for agricultural products in the Delaware Estuary, reflecting 32 percent of the farm products produced by Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

1: From Wilmington to Philadelphia to Trenton, the Delaware Estuary ranks as the largest freshwater port in the world, employing 4,506 workers who earn $36 million in wages.

2,900: The number of ships that docked at Delaware River ports in 2006, or about 8 each day.

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