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Maritime Put the Sea in Seattle!

May 24, 2021

By Sarah Scherer and Tosca Pinder, Co-Presidents, Seattle Propeller Club

Virtually everything we use, eat, or wear is made possible thanks to our maritime industry. 

Today, our maritime industry has never been stronger — or more important to the future of our region. Seattle is a global leader in marine transportation with leading edge technology; engineering and shipbuilding; environmental sustainability; and a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

The success of our region’s industry is the story of Seattle — we put the Sea in Seattle!

Seattle’s maritime industry is rooted in the state’s rich history of timber production, its location as a trade hub halfway between Asia and Europe, and its proximity to some of the world’s most productive fisheries. And we’ve always been the primary gateway to Alaska and Asia. 

Our maritime industry today is annually worth $37.8 billion to the state economy, according to a 2017 study by the Economic Development Council of Seattle and King County and the Workforce Development Council of Seattle and King County. In 2015, the industry directly employed 69,500 workers, with an average salary of $69,500 — nearly $20,000 above the state’s median salary!


Maritime workers

Check out what’s happening in our industry today:

  • The Port of Seattle’s Fishermen’s Terminal is the home port of the North Pacific Fishing Fleet and thousands of jobs, and where families take tremendous pride in celebrating the journey from sea to market to table. For over 150 years, the Ballard/Interbay/Lake Union area has been the home of the region’s commercial fishing industry and the North Pacific Fishing Fleet. Did you know fishing vessels based at Port of Seattle moorage facilities supply 13% of the total U.S. commercial fishing harvest by tonnage? Learn more
  • Through the Northwest Seaport Alliance, the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma combined rank as the fifth largest container gateway in North America. The Alliance handled approximately $66 billion of waterborne trade with 189 trading partners globally in 2020. Washington is the most trade dependent state in the United States. Today, four in ten jobs in Washington are tied to international trade, according to the Port of Seattle. Learn more
  • Since 2000, Seattle has grown to be the #1 U.S. West Coast cruise port in the number of passengers, with over 200 annual departures to Alaska. The Port of Seattle connects local tourism and maritime commerce with the thriving cruise marketplace and we are proud to support the natural beauty, vibrancy, and diversity of our region. Learn more
  • With one of the highest clusters of shipyards and maritime manufacturers and services in the United States, we’re recognized for our fine craftsmanship and dedicated workforce. Many of these businesses have been part of the area’s family-owned business landscape for more than 100 years. 
  • From having more boats per capita than any other U.S. city to thousands of visitors enjoying an Argosy cruise to the largest ferry system in the United States, Seattle is known for being the boating capitol of the Northwest. Learn more

But we’re even more excited about the maritime industry’s future!

  • Maritime Blue is encouraging the growth and development of innovative, environmentally responsible companies and projects, and helping train a diverse young workforce for well-paying maritime careers. Learn more
  • The new Maritime Innovation Center (MInC) at Fishermen’s Terminal will help the region’s maritime industry adopt advanced technologies and stimulate innovative entrepreneurship by promoting knowledge transfer, business incubation, and workforce development. Learn more 
  • The Washington State Ferries is investing in its terminals and replacing their aging fleet with cutting-edge hybrid, electric ferries. Learn more
  • The Northwest’s first Maritime High School will open this fall! The curricula will center on the environment, marine science, and maritime careers, including maritime construction, vessel operations, and other careers working on or near the water. Learn more
  • The Port of Seattle continues to proactively invest in our region’s economic development and has created a $348 million five-year budget blueprint for infrastructure including Terminal 91 uplands development, Fishermen’s Terminal redevelopment, habitat restoration, Pier 66 shore power, and the Maritime Innovation Center. Learn more

And as we move forward, we are mindful of our passion to protect the environment and all its residents. It’s protecting orcas and the aquatic environment. It’s being a global leader in clean air strategies and managing stormwater. It’s being a leader in environmental equity.

May 22 is National Maritime Day, an annual holiday that recognizes one of our country’s most important industries. It’s an industry that powers the world’s largest economy and strengthens our ties with trading partners around the world.

Join in this celebration of the past, present, and future of our maritime industry. Because around here, our Maritime Matters.

About the Authors and the Seattle Propeller Club
Sarah Scherer and Tosca Pinder are Co-Presidents and volunteers for the Seattle Propeller Club. Sarah is Maritime and Manufacturing Advocate for the City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development. Tosca is an Associate Vice President at ABD Insurance and Financial Services.

The Seattle Propeller Club is the largest and most diverse maritime business organization in Seattle. The Club is designed to promote maritime commerce in the Puget Sound region and holds monthly networking events, raises funds to support maritime nonprofit organizations, and supports initiatives to enhance the vitality of the industry. The Maritime Festival, Seattle Maritime Matters, and Seafood 101 campaigns are produced by the Seattle Propeller Club. 

To learn more, visit

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