Scallop survey a mixed bag



A scallop diver inspects part of his harvest. A new Department of Marine Resources survey found fewer scallops in Frenchman Bay than researchers had hoped. FILE PHOTO

A scallop diver inspects part of his harvest. A new Department of Marine Resources survey found fewer scallops in Frenchman Bay than researchers had hoped.
FILE PHOTO

WEST BOOTHBAY — The Department of Marine Resources (DMR) has released the results of its Spring Scallop Survey for state waters between Penobscot Bay and Lubec. For fishermen already barred from harvesting scallops along large sections of the coast, the news was mixed at best.

DMR surveyed all seven of the “rotational management areas” in Scallop Management Zone 2 that are open to harvesters during the fishing season that began Dec. 1. The survey included 139 tows with a standard scallop drag, about 40 fewer than during the 2013 spring survey.

The aim of the survey was to determine the approximate density of harvestable, sublegal and seed scallops in each area. Harvestable scallops have a shell height of 4 inches of more and scallops with a shell height between 2.5 and 3.9 inches are classified as sublegal. Smaller scallops are considered seed.

According to the report compiled by DMR scientist Kevin Kelly, in the Bold Coast area, between Jim’s Head and the Lubec-Campobello Island bridge, the density of harvestable scallops was “significantly higher” this year than it was in the adjacent area that was open in 2013. The densities of both sublegal and seed scallops also were higher than during the 2013 survey.

The survey held more good news for Down East harvesters who didn’t want to head to Cobscook Bay to fish.

The density of harvestable scallops in the Little Kennebec-Englishman Bay rotational area east of Jonesport and around Machiasport also was higher in 2014 than in the adjacent open area in 2013, but seed and sublegal densities were lower than in 2013. That could be a problem in the future, but with this area scheduled to close to fishing next year, scallop densities could improve.

The news was not so good in the western part of Zone 2.

The zone’s five other rotational areas, around Addison, in Frenchman Bay, around Swans Island, Isle au Haut and in upper Penobscot Bay “had poor scallop abundance,” according to the survey.

“The highest density of harvestables (sic) was in Isle au Haut Bay, but this was only in a limited part of the survey area.”

The survey raises questions about how successful DMR’s efforts to restore the state’s scallop stock ultimately can be.

“Aside from Bold Coast and Little Kennebec/Englishman Bay,” the survey report concludes, “there was very little sign of recruitment,” in the presence of either seed or sublegal scallops

The complete survey report can be viewed on the DMR website. Printed copies of the report can be obtained by contacting Trisha Cheney, the DMR scallop resource manager, at trisha.cheney@maine.gov or by calling 624-6554.

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