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MOREHEAD CITY – Beginning Jan. 16, recreational and commercial fishermen will be faced with a first-ever maximum size limit for the crabs they harvest – no mature female crabs can be kept over 6 ¾ inches from spike to spike and no female peeler crabs can be kept over 5 ¼ inches from spike to spike.

The Blue Crab Fishery Management Plan, updated in 2004, included maximum size limits for mature female crabs that would only become effective if the biomass (weight or volume) of the population dropped to a historically low level.

Research conducted by the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries shows for the last two years the population and size of crabs has been declining. This continuing decrease has triggered the new maximum size limits, which are intended to protect large female crabs as they travel across the sounds to ocean inlets to spawn. Allowing these large mature females to successfully spawn should increase the size of the overall crab population.

The maximum size limits will be lifted April 30, but will go back into effect Sept. 1 and will stay in effect until April 30, 2007. The maximum size limits will continue to go into effect September through April of each year until the stock status improves.

Visit to learn more about the Blue Crab Fishery Management Plan. For more information on these new restrictions, please contact Sean McKenna at [email protected] or by calling 800-338-7804 or 252-946-6481.
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