Fuel costs keep N.C. fishing boats at the dock

High fuel prices have accomplished what rough weather and cheap imported seafood never could -- keeping Sheldon Daniels' trawler fleet at the dock.

"I normally would have been shrimping for a month, but I can't catch enough to pay for the fuel," Daniels, owner of William Smith Seafood in Beaufort, said last week. "I haven't gone at all."

The soaring prices are crimping North Carolina's $82 million commercial fishing industry. Unlike recreational fishing captains, who can pass on a fuel surcharge to clients, many commercial fishermen are being squeezed by low dockside prices for catches and mounting fuel bills.

As of Tuesday, the statewide average price of a gallon of diesel was $4.73, according to AAA. That's up from $2.87 a year ago. Gasoline was selling for an average of $4.01 a gallon statewide, up from $2.88 a year ago.

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