North Carolina’s commercial and recreational fishing harvests had mixed success during 2013, according to a report from the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries released this week. Commercial fishermen caught fewer fish for the third-straight year but made more money, also for the third-straight year. Recreational fishermen caught about 10-percent more fish in 2013 than 2014, but still 47-percent fewer than they were catching 10 years ago. They landed 13.3 million pounds.
Commercial fishermen sold 50 million pounds of fish and shellfish at North Carolina docks in 2013, a 12-percent decrease from 2012 and 21 percent less than the 5-year average, according to NCDMF. The dockside value of the catch rose to $79 million, a 9-percent increase over 2012 and 4 percent higher than the 5-year average.
Blue crabs and shrimp continued to top the list of North Carolina’s commercial-fishing products. Commercial fishermen landed 21 million pounds of blue crabs last year, an 18-percent increase over 2012. The dockside value of the crabs increased 31 percent to $26.4 million. Shrimp were No. 2 with 4.9 million pounds landed with a dockside value of $13 million. Spiny dogfish were third with 3 million pounds worth $302,248, followed by southern flounder with 2.2 million pounds for $5.6 million, and croaker with 1.9 million pounds for $1.7 million.
The total finfish landings of 22 million pounds was a 3-percent drop over 2012. NCDMF said croaker landings in large-mesh gill nets were down by 1.2 million pounds, and summer flounder landings were off 50 percent due to a drop in flounder-trawl landings, likely attributable to navigational issues at Oregon Inlet.
Recreational fishermen caught more pounds of yellowfin tuna than any other species, 62,1110 fih for 2 million pounds, a 28-percent increase over 2012. Dolphin were second at 2 million pounds and a quarter-million fish, followed by 1.2 million bluefish, 166,608 redfish and 369,500 speckled trout.
The redfish harvest was the highest on record, a 187-percent increase over 2012 figures. Landings of spot doubled to almost a half-million pounds, but are still below history harvest levels.
Recreational spot landings doubled to 462,884 pounds (1.5 million fish) in 2013, but still remained well below historic harvest levels. Sheepshead caught increased by 70 percent, and southern flounder caught increased 37 percent.
NCDMF reported that the number of fish caught and released by recreational fishermen was up 13 percent over 2012 to 21 million.
Recreational fishermen took about a million fewer trips in 2013, a 28-percent decrease over the number of trips taken 10 years ago.