2013-2014 Maine Scallop Management Measures Continue Rebuilding Effort
In an effort to continue rebuilding Maine’s scallop fishery, the Maine Department of Marine Resources has established management measures for the 2013-2014 harvesting season that feature limited access areas and targeted closures within three management zones.
The goal of this management approach is to continue rebuilding the resource while providing a reliable source of income for harvesters.
“Maine’s scallop fishery is vital to our state,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “It provides jobs and much needed extra income for many who work in other fisheries. I commend the dedication by those in the industry to make the necessary sacrifices to restore a resource that fuels our coastal economy.”
The scallop fishery experienced an all-time low in 2005, landing just over 33,000 pounds of scallop meats (276,000 pounds of whole scallops including the shell and viscera) from Maine waters. In 2009, 20 percent of Maine waters were closed to scallop fishing to begin restoring the fishery.
In 2012, three scallop zones were put into place to ensure a targeted management approach. Limited access areas, in which harvesting is allowed one day per week and closed when a percentage of the available resource is removed, were also implemented, as were rotational closures, an approach similar to crop rotations used in agriculture, which promotes increased landings, resulting in higher economic yields from the resource.
In 2012, after three years of the rebuilding, the closure areas were reopened for fishing as limited access areas and Maine harvesters landed over 280,000 pounds of scallop meats (2.4 million pounds of whole scallops).
“The conservation measures put in place in 2009 are working, and we’re starting to see the benefits,” said DMR Resource Management Coordinator Trisha De Graaf. “Last year, not only did we see an increase in the landings, the limited access areas were producing more valuable, larger sized scallops.”
“The rebuilding of this fishery is the result of successful cooperation between industry and the state,” said Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher. “The new management approach has been challenging for industry, but their commitment to make necessary sacrifices and to work with us is now paying off.”
This year, the season begins on December 2. The season will last 70 days in Zone 1, which extends from Kittery to Penobscot Bay, and in Zone 2, from Penobscot Bay to the Lubec-Campobello International Bridge. In Zone 3, Cobscook Bay, the season will last 50 days, six days more than last season.
The daily limit in Zones 1 and 2 was reduced from 20 gallons to 15 gallons, while it remains at 10 gallons in Zone 3. “We decided to reduce the daily limit in Zones 1 and 2 rather than reduce the length of the season to improve the likelihood of a reliable source of income and access to the resource for harvesters over the course of the season,” said De Graaf.
Limited access areas for draggers in both zones begin January 6 and are open Monday each week through March 17. Divers will be allowed to harvest from the limited access areas Wednesday each week beginning January 8 through March 19. Limited access areas will be monitored closely and closed to harvesting when 30 to 40 percent of the available resource has been removed from the area.
Targeted closures will also be in place during the season to protect areas that are rebuilding or have significant populations of sub-legal size or juvenile scallops.
For more information on Maine’s scallop season, visit http://www.maine.gov/dmr/rm/scallops/management/2013-14/index.htm or contact Trisha DeGraaf at (207) 624-6554 or by email.