Blue crab season closures will go into effect in state waters early next year.
Closures north and east of the N.C. 58 bridge, the bridge connecting Emerald Isle to mainland Carteret County, will be from Jan. 1-31, 2021, and from March 1-15, 2021, south and west of the N.C. 58 bridge.
The North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission approved the closures as a way to end overfishing and achieve sustainable harvest with the adoption of the Blue Crab Fishery Management Plan Amendment 3 at its February 2020 meeting, according to the Division of Marine Fisheries.
The blue crab season closure replaces the annual pot closure period and will remain closed for the entirety. Pots of any type must be removed from internal coastal fishing waters, except in the ocean, during the season closure. Possession of blue crabs regardless of harvest gear type is prohibited from all Coastal Fishing Waters in both ocean and internal waters, according to DMF officials.
A recent state stock assessment for blue crab determined the stock is overfished and overfishing is occurring, which is why the closures are taking place. Overfished means the population is too small. Overfishing means the removal rate is too high.
North Carolina law mandates that fishery management plans include measures to end overfishing within two years of adoption and rebuild the stock to achieve sustainable harvest within 10 years of adoption.
Division of Marine Fisheries Director Steve Murphey implemented the new measures through Proclamation M-01-2021. Proclamations are available on the division’s website.
Information on Amendment 3 can be found on the Blue Crab Fishery Management Plan Information webpage. For more information, contact division biologist Daniel Zapf at 252-946-6481 or Daniel.Zapf@ncdenr.gov.