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News Feature

Originally published in Community News, December 19, 2013
Shrimp is out, scallop restricted
Winter fisheries attempt to rebuild stocks

by Jessica Brophy

Earlier this month, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission met in Portland and voted to eliminate the Maine shrimp season.

The scallop season—which opened on December 2—is likewise restricted to protect the fishery and allow rebuilding.

“In an effort to continue rebuilding Maine’s scallop fishery, the Maine Department of Marine Resources has established management measures…that feature limited access areas and targeted closures within three management zones,” according to a press release from the DMR.

The fishery experienced an all-time low in 2005, landing just over 33,000 pounds of scallop meat, or 276,000 pounds of whole scallops. One-fifth of Maine waters were closed in 2009; in 2013 the closed areas were reopened as limited access area. Maine harvesters landed over 280,000 pounds of scallop meat, or 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.”

This year, the scallop season lasts 70 days in Zones 1 and 2. Penobscot Bay, Blue Hill Bay (currently closed to scalloping) and Jericho Bay are all in Zone 2. The daily limit was reduced from 20 gallons to 15 gallons in Zones 1 and 2. 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.

“The rebuilding of the fishery is the result of successful cooperation between industry and the state,” said DMR Commissioner Pat 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.”