2005 SEAFOOD HARVEST FIGURES RELEASED
MOREHEAD CITY – Continuing a trend that began in 1997, the state’s commercial fishing harvest continues to drop, while recreational fishing remains stable, according to harvest data released by the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries.
The 2005 commercial harvest of finfish and shellfish totaled 79 million pounds, valued at $64.9 million – North Carolina’s smallest harvest on record. Data suggests other southeast states are experiencing similar declines.
Landings fluctuate for a variety of reasons – weather, fuel prices, market demand, availability of seafood, low-cost imports, the number of people fishing and harvest restrictions. Each of these factors came into play during North Carolina’s 2005 fishing year.
One reason the depressed 2005 landings was the small menhaden catch; only 13.3 million pounds of the oily industrial fish were landed at Tar Heel docks. Landings in this fishery can fluctuate widely, from the low of 13.3 million pounds, to over 300 million pounds, depending on the amount of effort the commercial industry expends. That effort was minimal in 2005 with only 15 fishing trips reported using purse seines, the principal gear used to take menhaden.
Other commercial mainstays experiencing decreased landings were blue crabs and shrimp. Blue crab harvest was at 25.6 million pounds, compared to the previous five-year average of 36 million pounds. Shrimp landings were 2.3 million pounds, down from the previous five-year average of 7.3 million pounds. Trip data show fewer crab pot and shrimp trawl fishing trips were made in 2005. The higher cost of fuel, the lower market value of shrimp due to imports, and the scarcity of crabs and shrimp, all contributed to the landings decline in these important fisheries.
The top-five species commercially harvested were:
Summer Flounder $7.5 million Atlantic Menhaden 13.3 million
Shrimp $4.4 million Atlantic Croaker 11.5 million
Southern Flounder $3.5 million Summer Flounder 4 million
Atlantic Croaker $3.3 million Bluefish 2.8 million
*Values are ex-vessel, which is the amount fishermen are paid for their catch.
The state’s oyster harvest continues to be a highlight to the commercial sector. In 2005, watermen caught 71,479 bushels, an increase over the 69,501 bushels harvested in 2004, and well over the previous five-year average of 50,431 bushels. This modest gain in oyster harvest is most likely attributed to favorable growing conditions, including higher levels of rainfall than in previous years.
Compared to the previous five-year average, other increased commercial landings in 2005 were gag grouper, grunts, king mackerel, porgies, beeliners, red drum, swordfish and bigeye tuna.
Commercial Effort Summary:
Year Active Fishermen Pounds Harvested Fishing Trips
The top-five fish recreationally harvested were:
Recreational Effort Summary:
Year Active Anglers Pounds Harvested Fishing Trips
Visit the DMF’s Web site at www.ncdmf.net/statistics/index.html to view harvest statistics, or download the annual fisheries bulletin at http://www.ncdmf.net/download/index.html. For information on commercial statistics, contact Don Hesselman at email@example.com or by calling 252-726‑7021 or 800-682-2632. For information on recreational hook-and-line statistics, contact Doug Mumford at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 252-946-6481 or 800-338-7804. For information on RCGL statistics, contact Chris Wilson at email@example.com or by calling 252- 946-6481 or 800-338-7804.