Report: N.C. harvests continue to decline

“Live Crabs, $5.99 per pound” reads the sign hanging at Saltwater Seafood Market and Fry Shack in Raleigh, which on a good day sells 2,000 pounds of fish and shellfish.

Two years ago, that same North Carolina hard-shell blue crab cost just $2.99 per pound.

It’s a sign of a faltering North Carolina commercial fishing industry. A surge in prices has accompanied a drop in the state’s fish and shellfish harvest, which fell in 2013 for the fourth year in a row to the lowest in 10 years, according to a recent report from the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries.

The 50 million pounds of fish and shellfish North Carolina commercial fishermen landed in 2013 is 12 percent less than in 2012 and 21 percent down from the five-year average. But the value, close to $79 million, was the highest price per pound in a decade.

Michael LaVecchia of Meat & Fish Co. in Charlotte says that tight quotas on most seafood in North Carolina waters have kept the prices up even as the catch goes down.

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