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If N.C. is the top producer of blue crabs, why are there no crab houses like Maryland and Chesapeake Bay?

Allison Ballard

Q. If NC is number one producer of blue crabs in the U.S, why is there no crab houses like Maryland and Cheseapeake bay has so many? I love the paper over the table, with mallets and vinegar, pitcher of beer etc., and have yet to find a spot near our Oak Island home.

A. According to N.C. Sea Grant, North Carolina produced more blue crabs than any other state from 1994 to 2004.

Depending on the year, the state harvests between 11-20 million pounds a year – or even more in some seasons. But many of the fisheries around the country have seen a drop in recent years, including here, and in the Northeast and the Chesapeake Bay. As a result, many of the crabs that are harvested along this coast are shipped to the Chesapeake Bay area and served in crab houses there, said a spokesperson for the Division of Marine Fisheries.

Circumstances have been tough for the industry in other ways, too. In North Carolina, for example, more than half of the crab-processing plants have closed in recent years. Fewer than 20 remain. One of the threats is inexpensive, imported crabmeat from countries such as Venezuela and Thailand. As much as 70 percent of the crabmeat in the U.S. is imported.

With the current economy, there might not be enough demand for this style of crab house or enough demand for local crabmeat in existing seafood restaurants. Still, an adventurous restaurateur could open a crab house at any time. And consumers can affect change by buying and eating locally sourced crabs.


What are they catching in the pots located under the Cape Fear River bridge?

Where is the best place to get information on crabbing?

User-contributed question by:
Bill Milby

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One Response to “ If N.C. is the top producer of blue crabs, why are there no crab houses like Maryland and Chesapeake Bay?”

  1. On June 8, 2012 at 11:43 am Thomas wrote:

    It could be that our Community Leadership do not support the active commercialization of our NHC waterfront. At least that is the message sent by the Planning board as they approved a rare – if not the last B-2 – commercial property in NHC to be re-zoned to R-15. Permanently locking out the potential commercial waterfront. What do we need more of R-15 private homes on the water or commercial access and long term job opportunities to support our Seafood markets?

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