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December 7, 2018

State scallop fishing season starts off strong

Photo / Courtesy Downeast Dayboat Scallops
Photo / Courtesy Downeast Dayboat Scallops
Togue Brawn, of Downeast Dayboat Scallops, onboard the Bossy Lady, is shown in this 2017 file photo. Early reports suggest this year's scallop season is off to a strong start.

Dozens of boats appear to be having success fishing for scallops now that the state fishery has opened for the winter.

Marine Patrol Sgt. Colin MacDonald told the Mount Desert Islander there were around 20 draggers in Moosabec Reach, 40 in Gouldsboro Bay and more elsewhere when the season opened earlier this week. He said scallops appear to be reasonably large and the price "pretty decent" at $12.50 per pound. The first's day harvest, Dec. 3, was "not phenomenal" but the fishery was busy, he said.

According to information on the Department of Marine Resources website, the fishery this year is benefiting from the state's system of areas that have been closed to fishing on a rotational basis. Rotational management is like crop rotations in agriculture and is used to support resource rebuilding. Areas open this season in Zone 2 — the eastern half of the coastline — had been closed for the previous two seasons.

As in past seasons, areas along the coast will be closed by the DMR using emergency rulemaking when 30% to 40% of the volume of legal-sized scallops have been harvested. The 30% to 40% trigger has been shown to allow the resource to regenerate sufficiently to ensure a commercial harvest in the future. The DMR determines when to close areas by using information collected during the season from industry and Marine Patrol and from in-season trawl surveys.

The success of the state's management strategy was illustrated earlier this year, when the DMR announced four new entrants, through a lottery, into the scallop fishery — the first new ones since 2009. There were 1,290 lottery entrants.

Maine's scallop fishery has rebounded since 2009, when landings were 665,758 pounds, to 6.6 million pounds harvested in 2017, the most since 1998.

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