The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries announced
the tallies of coastal recreational fishing landings for 2017 via a press
release that was issued on Thursday, June 12.
The Division of Marine Fisheries estimates these annual
recreational fishing harvests through broad-based intercept surveys, where port
agents talk to fishermen on the beach, at the piers and at boat ramps, and
through mail surveys to license holders.
Overall, coastal recreational anglers caught and kept fewer
fish last year than in 2016, likely due in part to bad weather days during
prime fishing season that kept surf fishermen off the water.
Coastal anglers caught and kept more than 5.5 million fish
with an estimated total weight of 11 million pounds in North Carolina in 2017,
according to estimates from the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Coastal
Angling Program. That was about 35.7 percent fewer fish (8.1 percent fewer
pounds) than in 2016.
The decrease in landings correlates with a 16 percent
reduction in the total number of fishing trips taken, including a 39 percent drop
in the number of beach/bank fishing trips. The greatest decrease in fishing
trips came during September and October, when Hurricane Jose and Hurricane
Maria passed offshore.
Key species with decreased landings included bluefish (55.5
percent), Atlantic croaker (34 percent), dolphin (29 percent), kingfishes (36.6
percent), pinfish (36 percent), pigfish (67.5 percent), and puffers (52.6
percent). These species represented 56 percent of the overall drop by number.
On the other hand, increases in the number of fish landed
were seen in some species that are popular catches on Hatteras and Ocracoke
islands, including red drum (63.4 percent), pompano (12 percent), and yellowfin
tuna (42.3 percent).
The top five species landed in 2017 by number were:
kingfishes (551,861), bluefish (524,072), spot (469,462), Spanish mackerel
(439,654), and spotted seatrout (339,523).
The top five species landed by weight were: yellowfin tuna
(3 million pounds), dolphin (1.5 million pounds), bluefish (690,018 pounds),
spotted seatrout (580,849 pounds), and wahoo (497,341 pounds).
For a full landings report, click on the 2017 Annual
Fisheries Bulletin link here.