February 26, 2018

State starts closing down scallop fishery

The Maine Department of Marine Resources has begun closing areas to scallop fishing for the season.

According to an Associated Press report published by the Bangor Daily News, the shutdowns are designed to protect the resource from depletion, during a season that begins in December and can last until early April.

According to a DMR notice, targeted conservation closures have occurred along the Harrington and Pleasant rivers in Addison, and in Upper Frenchman Bay.

"The department is concerned that continued harvesting for the duration of the 2017-18 fishing season in these areas will remove any remaining broodstock as well as negatively impact seed scallop resource that is essential to the ongoing recruitment, regrowth and recovery of the scallop resource in these areas," the Feb. 18 notice said.

Targeted closures are imposed as conservation measures to assist in rebuilding specific areas of the state. They can be implemented based on depletion, seed, the presence of spat-producing scallops and other conservation factors.

Both areas were open to harvest for 46 days. In both the Harrington and Pleasant rivers, fishing effort was most notable during December, with more than 10 vessels harvesting in the area.

"Boats were actively avoiding the seed spots and began spreading out in this rotational area by the third week of December and as weather allowed, harvesters would tow further outside of the Bay," the notice said. By January, fewer than five boats were harvesting in the lower port of the area. In Upper Frenchman Bay, effort in both the Skillings River and adjacent areas was most notable during December and into January, with more than five vessels harvesting.

"Available legal product has been extracted from this area and continued harvest will cause unnecessary damage to the habitat and the scallop resource. It is necessary to protect the seed scallop resource and the remaining legal scallop resource as broodstock for subsequent fishing years," the notice said of both areas.

At the beginning of the season in December, the Ellsworth American reported that scallops were plentiful, but small, resulting in prices down $2 to $3 from 2016's average of $12.77.


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