The commercial and recreational harvests of finfish and shellfish continued a decline in 2012.

The commercial and recreational harvests of finfish and shellfish continued a decline in 2012.

Commercial fishermen harvested 56.7 million pounds of seafood with an estimated dockside value of $73 million. That is down 16 percent from 67.5 million pounds the previous year.

A contributor to the decrease on the commercial side is the shoaling of Oregon Inlet, which has particularly impacted fisheries such as summer flounder.

According to the 2012 commercial and recreational seafood harvests, there was a 90-percent drop in the number of fishing trips using flounder trawls and flynets, which are commonly used by boats that use Oregon Inlet. The gears account for the majority of the Atlantic menhaden, squid and summer flounder landings, all which decreased. Fewer flynet trips likely contributed to decrease in Atlantic croaker landings.

High fuel prices and stricter federal regulations were also an impact.

The landings report was presented to the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission, which met May 29 through June 1 in Morehead City.

“We’ve lost those harvests. It’s definitely a big impact on our finfish,” said Alan Bianchi, the division’s commercial statistics program manager, in an interview Thursday following his presentation.

Hard blue crabs remain the top commercial species harvested, with 26.8 million pounds landed in 2012, but a downward trend continues due to environmental and market conditions, as well as damage to infrastructure caused by hurricanes. Shrimp and Atlantic croaker continue to hold the second and third spots.

But when looking at changes in the Top 5, spiny dogfish and striped mullet now take fourth and fifth, replacing summer flounder and southern flounder, which help the spots in 2008.

On the recreational side, landings dropped to 12 million pounds in 2012 from 13.2 million the previous year.

There were harvest losses in species such as ocean striped bass and dogfish sharks, but a highlight for 2012 was a record set for red drum, with 1.5 million releases in 2012.

“That’s three times higher than we’ve ever had before,” said Doug Mumford, recreational statistics manager. “I think that’s remarkable.”

Mumford said all the right environmental conditions made for a strong increase in the spawning stock.

Those juvenile fish released will grow to a size that will allow them to be caught this year.

Dolphinfish remained the top catch for anglers, who harvested 2.6 million pounds in 2012. Yellowfin tuna followed with bluefish, wahoo, and spotted sea trout rounded out the top 5.

The full landings report can be found of the N.C. Division of Marine fisheries website at