Annual blue crab harvest closures are scheduled for early next year in North Carolina waters to help end overfishing.
The harvest closure period runs from Jan. 1-31 in state waters north and east of the Emerald Isle bridge and from March 1-15 for waters south and west of the bridge, North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries said in a reminder announcement Monday.
During the closure period, pots of any type must be removed from internal coastal fishing waters, excluding ocean waters, and possession of blue crabs regardless of harvest gear type is prohibited from all coastal fishing waters, which are ocean and internal coastal waters. Pots are allowed in ocean waters for other targeted species, such as black sea bass.
The 2018 North Carolina blue crab stock assessment results indicate the blue crab stock is overfished and experiencing overfishing. State law required measures be taken to achieve sustainable harvest within 10 years and to end overfishing within two years, officials said.
In order to reduce harvest to a sustainable level, the Blue Crab Fishery Management Plan Amendment 3, which included the annual harvest closure, was adopted by the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission at its February 2020 business meeting.
The director of the Division of Marine Fisheries implemented the new measures through a proclamation also listed on the division’s website.
For more information, contact division biologists Daniel Zapf at 252-946-6481 or Daniel.Zapf@ncdenr.gov or Janelle Johnson at 252-381-6007 or email@example.com.