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January 9, 2019

Scallop prices variable, but comparable to last year

Courtesy / Maine Department of Marine Resources
Courtesy / Maine Department of Marine Resources
Chart showing how the scallop fishery compares with other species landed by Maine fishermen in 2017.

The price of scallops caught in Maine waters is comparing well with previous years.

The Ellsworth American reported that harvesters were receiving prices as high as nearly $14 per pound. But in some cases, harvesters received $8.75 to $10.75 per pound, depending on meat size.

That compares with the 2017-18 scallop season, which started off with prices that were down $2 to $3 from 2016-17's average of $12.77.

In 2017, Maine scallop harvesters landed the most scallops since 1997, bringing ashore 793,544 meat pounds, a nearly 45% jump from 2016. At $9.3 million, scallop landings had the highest overall value since 1993.

The 2018-19 season began Dec. 1. By Jan. 4, the Maine Department of Marine Resources had begun implementing its emergency rulemaking authority to implement conservation closures along parts of the coast to protect the scallop resource from the risk of depletion of broodstock and seed scallop. Called "targeted conservation closures," they're determined by the marine resources commissioner based on depletion, seed, the presence of spat-producing scallops and other factors.

Dozens of boats kicked off the season when the state fishery opened in December. Marine Patrol Sgt. Colin MacDonald told the Mount Desert Islander at the time that there were around 20 draggers in Moosabec Reach, 40 in Gouldsboro Bay and more elsewhere when the season opened.

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.

The success of the management strategy was illustrated when the DMR announced four new entrants in 2018. Selected by lottery, they were the first new entrants since 2009.

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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