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MOREHEAD CITY – Economic factors, such as coastal development and low seafood prices, have deteriorated the historic commercial fishing industry in the Down East area of Carteret County, according to an economic analysis released today by the N.C. Division of Marine fisheries.

The value of seafood landings has decreased by 50 percent since 1997 and participation in commercial fishing has dropped by 43 percent, according to the report.

Most disturbingly, fewer than half of the commercial fishermen who participated in a recent survey think they will still be a commercial fisherman a decade from now.

“Compared to a study of the same area five years ago, these numbers are alarming,” said Scott Crosson, DMF socio-economic program manager and author of the report. “This is the first time we’ve seen this many of the fishermen believing they will not be around in the future.”

The report finds that while household incomes in the area still compare to those in other rural North Carolina areas, fishing incomes have dropped sharply. Many fishermen have adapted by taking landside jobs and continuing to fish as supplemental income.

Active and retired commercial fishermen surveyed ranked the issues of fuel prices, low prices paid the fishermen at the docks, imported seafood, coastal development and loss of working waterfronts as the top challenges facing the industry. Many of these pressures are not likely to diminish in the near future.

A new law that gives tax breaks to working waterfronts and a new state fund for waterfront access may help lighten at least one of the economic pressures affecting the industry. Efforts to educate consumers about the benefits of locally harvested seafood and recent national headlines about tainted imported seafood may help sustain local markets, as well.

The report marks the seventh in a series of studies investigating the social and economic characteristics of North Carolina’s commercial fisheries. The Core Sound area of Carteret County (Down East) offers a representative view of the North Carolina fishing industry as a whole.

For more information, contact Crosson at (252) 726-7021 or [email protected]. A copy of the economic analysis can be found at http://www.ncdmf.net/download/CoreSound2007.pdf.
 

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I don't have a crystal ball but the future does look bleak for certain areas. The scientists at the Waddell Marine Reaserch labs and Texas A&M Are working on shrimp aquaculture using intensive methods and closed water recirculating systems. This technology is still at least 3 yrs. from becoming a reality. If it does prove profitable, I think we will see a Move towards shrimp farming and away from shrimp trawling. Once this all starts happening I fully expect to see major improvements in fishing in general. I'm pretty sure UNC, State, Duke and ECU are all working on various aquaculture projects. It won't happen overnight and high land prices will prevent a lot of commercial fishermen from becoming players in the aquaculture buisness but It won't necessarily leave them without options. I think we will see some major changes though.
 
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