June 4, 2013
2012 commercial and recreational fish
and shellfish harvests are released
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.
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 North Carolina Trip Ticket Program.
However, the value of commercial landings 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 state’s Coastal Angling Program.
However, anglers released an estimated 18.5 million fish, 16.8 percent
more than in 2011.
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
Shrimp took the No. 2 spot with landings of 6.1 million
pounds with an ex-vessel value of $13.3 million, followed by Atlantic
croaker (3.1 million pounds and $2.1 million), spiny dogfish (2.7
million pounds and $640,820), and striped mullet (1.9 million pounds
and $1 million).
2012 blue crab landings were down nearly 11
percent from 2011, continuing a downward trend in landings since the
late 1990s. Environmental influences, market conditions, and
infrastructure loss because of storms have all significantly impacted
the crab fishery.
The decline in crab landings contributed to a
reduction in overall commercial shellfish landings, which was 34
million pounds in 2012. Commercial shellfish landings were down 10
percent from 2011.
Oyster landings also decreased to 83,193
bushels in 2012, down 45 percent from 2011 and 34 percent from the
latest five-year average. This largely was due to damage to oyster beds
from Hurricane Irene in 2011.
Commercial finfish harvests
dropped to 22.7 million pounds in 2012, a 24 percent reduction from
2011 and 22 percent less than the latest five-year average. High fuel
prices, stricter federal regulations and the shoaling of Oregon Inlet
likely impacted finfish landings.
There was a 90 percent
reduction in the number of fishing trips using flounder trawls and
flynets, gears predominantly used by boats that use Oregon Inlet. These
two gears account for the majority of the Atlantic menhaden, squid, and
summer flounder landings in North Carolina. 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 because of quota increases. And striped mullet landings
increased by14 percent from 2011, part of a five-year upward trend.
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.
Yellowfin tuna took the
No. 2 spot with landings of 1.6 million pounds (57,085 fish), followed
by bluefish at 1 million pounds (888,852 fish), wahoo at 854,361
million pounds (30,877 fish), and spotted seatrout at 817,445 pounds
The number of spotted seatrout landed in 2012
was 131 percent higher than in 2011, likely due to a mild winter that
did not cause any cold stun events and provided for a winter fishing
season that extended well into the spring.
number of red drum releases hit 1.5 million in 2012, three times higher
than the highest ever seen in North Carolina. This further supports
data from N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries monitoring programs that
have noted record numbers of juvenile red drum over the past several
years. Many of the released fish will grow into the slot size limit
this year, which allows them to be harvested.
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
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 http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/marine-fisheries-catch-statistics.
For more information, contact division License and Statistics Section Chief Don Hesselman at 252-808-8099 or [email protected].