Maine scallop season gets underway

Scallops Harvesters in zones 1 and 2 will be allowed to land 15 gallons of shucked scallops per day and harvesters in zone 3 will be allowed to land 10 gallons a day

Maine’s 2017-2018 scallop harvesting season will look much like last year’s, the Maine Department of Marine Resources has said.

The season started on 1 December and as with the 2016-17 season, harvesters in zones 1 and 2, which together stretch from the New Hampshire border to the Lubec-Campobello Bridge, will be allowed to land 15 gallons of shucked scallops per day, and harvesters in zone 3, which includes Cobscook Bay and the St. Croix River, will be allowed to land 10 gallons a day.

While harvesters in zone 1 will again have a total of 60 days to fish and harvesters in zone 2 will have 70 days, harvesters in zone 3 will have five additional days (55 versus 50) this season.

30-40% trigger

Areas along the coast will be closed by the Department using emergency rulemaking when 30-40% of the volume of legal sized scallops have been harvested. The 30-40% trigger has been shown to allow the resource to regenerate sufficiently to ensure a commercial harvest in the future.

Using information collected during the season from industry and Maine Marine Patrol and from in-season trawl surveys, the Department can determine how much legal-size resource remains on the bottom and when to close areas.

Areas in zones 1 and 3 have been designated as limited access areas, meaning harvesting in those areas will be limited to one day a week per gear type to allow the resource to re-build. In zone 1, those areas include Casco Bay, the Sheepscot River, Muscongus Bay, and Western Penobscot Bay. In zone 3, Whiting and Dennys Bay are both limited access areas.

Rotational areas

In zone 2, rotational areas, which are areas opened and closed like crop rotation in agriculture, will continue as part of a 10-year plan. Territorial waters around Machias Seal Island and North Rock, also part of zone 2, will be open for daily harvest during March, providing additional opportunity for harvesters on days when other areas in the zone are closed.

A law change passed in the last legislative session, which takes effect in January 2018, will require the owner of a boat used for harvesting scallops to also hold a license and be onboard, but the law will allow a licensed family member to be onboard in place of the boat owner and provides certain exemptions for illness, disability, mechanical failure and previous fishing activity.

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