NC Fishing Harvest Drops Slightly

Published 1:38 pm Wednesday, July 3, 2013

North Carolina commercial and recreational seafood harvests dropped in 2012, likely due to a combination of environmental, economic and regulatory factors, including the shoaling of Oregon Inlet.

Commercial fishermen harvested 56.7 million pounds of finfish and shellfish from North Carolina coastal waters in 2012, a 16 percent drop from the previous year, according to the N.C. Trip Ticket Program.

The value of commercial landings, however, increased by 2.6 percent in 2012 to $73 million.

Recreational anglers harvested an estimated 12 million pounds of finfish (8.1 million fish) in 2012, a 9 percent decrease from 2011, according to the N.C. Coastal Angling Program. However, anglers released an estimated 18.5 million fish, 16.8 percent more than in 2011.

Blue crabs remained at the top the state’s commercial harvest, both in pounds and value. Commercial fishermen harvested 26.8 million pounds of crab in 2012, with an ex-vessel value (amount paid to the fishermen) of $22.8 million.

Atlantic menhaden landings were 85 percent lower, squid landings were 99 percent lower and summer flounder landings 62 percent lower than in 2011. Also, decreased flynet trips likely impacted Atlantic croaker landings, which were down 39 percent from 2011.

On the other hand, spiny dogfish landings have steadily gone up from 158,727 pounds in 2008 to 2.8 million pounds in 2012 due to quota increases. And striped mullet landings increased by14 percent from 2011, part of a 5-year upward trend.

Dolphinfish remained at the top of the list of recreationally harvested fish. Anglers harvested 2.6 million pounds of dolphinfish (327,042 fish) in 2012, a 27.8 percent decrease from 2011.

While the number of recreational fishing trips increased by 11.9 percent to 5.3 million in 2012, recreational fishing effort is still well below the nearly 7 million fishing trips made in 2008, prior to the nation’s economic downturn.

For-hire fishing trips have fallen from a high of 300,000 in 1996 to 140,648 in 2012.

For a full landings report, click on the 2012 Annual Fisheries Bulletin link at