Outer Banks waters close to blue crab harvest for the month of January

Blue crabs have historically been North Carolina’s most valuable commercial fishery. [photo courtesy Hyde County/Megan Shaw]

The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is reminding the public of the annual blue crab harvest closures. The harvest closure period runs from Jan. 1, 2022 through Jan. 31, 2022, for North Carolina state waters north and east of the Highway 58 bridge over Bogue Sound to Emerald Isle and from March 1, 2022 through March 15, 2022, for North Carolina state waters south and west of the Highway 58 bridge.

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 (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 indicated the stock is overfished and experiencing overfishing. North Carolina law mandates measures are taken to achieve sustainable harvest within 10 years and to end overfishing within two years. In order to reduce harvest to a sustainable level, the Blue Crab Fishery Management Plan Amendment 3 was adopted by the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission at its February 2020 business meeting. Management measures in Amendment 3 included the annual harvest closure.

The Director of the Division of Marine Fisheries 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 Fishery Management Plan website. For more information, contact division biologist(s) Daniel Zapf at 252-946-6481 or Janelle Johnson at 252-381-6007.