AUGUSTA — The Department of Marine Resources is holding hearings on a proposed rule setting the dates for the 2016-2017 scallop season.
In 2015, dealers reported scallop landings of 452,672 pounds to the DMR, worth nearly $5.8 million. Those figures cover landings from Jan. 1 through April 11 – considered part of the 2014-2015 “season” – and December of last year. Landings from January through April of this year will be included in the 2016 statistics even though those scallops were harvested in the “last” season.
As there was last winter, the fishery will be subject to daily possession limits. In Zones 1 and 2, from the New Hampshire border to Cobscook Bay, the limit is 15 gallons of scallop meats. In Zone 3 – Cobscook Bay – the possession limit is 10 gallons per day.
In Zone 2 – from Penobscot Bay east to the entrance to Cobscook Bay – a 70-day season for draggers would start Dec. 5 and end March 28, 2017. For divers, the 70-day season would start Dec. 1 and end April 15, 2017.
In Zone 1 – between the New Hampshire border and Penobscot Bay – a 60-day season would start Dec. 5 and end April 11 next year. For divers, the season would begin Dec. 1 and end April 15.
Cobscook Bay – Zone 3 – will again have a 50-day season: Dec. 15 to March 29 for draggers; Dec.1 through March 24 for divers.
The department also is planning to establish a new limited access area in which fishing is strictly controlled in Somes Sound in the waters of Mount Desert Island.
In addition to establishing the dates for the fishing season, the DMR is proposing to either maintain or implement several “targeted closures” of fishing areas based on such factors as depletion of the resource, high concentrations of seed or juvenile scallops or the presence of spat-producing scallops.
The closed areas will include portions of the Muscle Ridge and Lower Muscle Ridge channels, eastern Casco Bay, Ocean Point, the Sheepscot River, Muscongus Bay, the New Meadows River, Card Cove and East Moosabec Reach between Jonesport and Beals Island.
Turnout at Monday’s hearing in Ellsworth was light.
The next DMR hearing is set for the Lincoln County Communications Center on Route 1 in Wiscasset at 6 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 19.