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December 14, 2016

Scallop fishermen stay close to home

Photo / Courtesy Downeast Dayboat Scallops Togue Brawn, of Downeast Dayboat Scallops, onboard the “Bossy Lady.”

Scallop divers might have been feeling optimistic, due to a steady increase in landings in recent years, when the fishery started for the winter season on Dec. 1. But the number of scallop draggers showing up in Cobscook Bay on their opening day, Dec. 5, seemed to indicate a certain pessimism.

Trisha Cheney, the resource management coordinator for scallops for the Maine Department of Marine Resources, told The Quoddy Tides that only 69 boats showed up for opening day. That’s about half the size of the fleet that has been in the bay at the start of the season during many years. Almost all of the boats were local Cobscook Bay boats. In the past, many draggers from ports to the west have traveled to Cobscook Bay to fish.

This year, the fleet was apparently more spread out. Cheney told the paper that 76 draggers were fishing in the Jonesport area this year.

"About half of the fleet are in their own backyard," she said. "That's great. That's the goal, to spread people out."

Perry fisherman Tom Pottle told the paper that the abundance of scallops in Cobscook Bay is "fair.” While some locations have quite a few scallops that are just "barely legal" size, in other places there's "nice shell stock and nice meats. It's site specific."

In general, the DMR said in a Dec. 9 news release, the catch started off strong, with harvesters reporting good prices because of the size and quality of the product.

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