Blue crab season closure implemented

MOREHEAD CITY

The blue crab season closures will go into effect Jan. 1-31, 2021 in North Carolina state waters north and east of the Highway 58 bridge and March 1-15, 2021 south and west of the Highway 58 bridge. The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission approved measures to end overfishing and achieve sustainable harvest with the adoption of the Blue Crab Fishery Management Plan Amendment 3 at its February 2020 meeting.

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 (excludes ocean) during the season closure and possession of blue crabs regardless of harvest gear type is prohibited from all Coastal Fishing Waters (ocean and internal waters).

Season closures are necessary to reduce harvest because a recent North Carolina stock assessment for blue crab determined the stock is overfished and overfishing is occurring. 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 at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/proclamations.

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.

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