To support further biological and economic recovery of the coastal sea scallop fisheries in Maine and the Maritimes, and to enhance communication and collaboration between researchers and scallop industry professionals, Maine Sea Grant is collaborating with the Maine Department of Marine Resources, Canadian government agencies, and industry and academic research partners to sponsor and host the first international sea scallop-focused workshop in the Northeast and to fund a series of collaborative research projects, with support from the Broad Reach Fund of the Maine Community Foundation.
The Maine sea scallop fishery has traditionally supported hundreds of vessels throughout the state’s nearshore waters, and in some years has been a large component of the income for many fishing businesses. In recent years, declines in the resource have prompted the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) to initiate a forward-thinking approach to rebuild this once-robust fishery, including closing some areas to scallop harvesting in 2009. When closed areas were opened to limited fishing in 2012, sea scallop landings were almost 290,000 pounds, up nearly 800% from 2005’s all-time low of just over 33,000 pounds. The greatest improvements in scallop abundance have occurred in Downeast Maine, where scalloping provides a winter income for captains, crew, and shoreside wholesalers in the two most fishing-dependent counties of New England.
Over the past decade, a strong effort to engage industry and balance fishermen’s input with scientific advice has energized management of the Maine scallop fishery. Communication between industry members, managers, scientists and others has increased significantly. Much of this communication consists of fishermen’s observations, which leads to questions of various kinds: biology and ecology, effects of existing or potential management measures (e.g., population sources and sinks), viability of stock enhancement, concerns about threats to the scallop population and the environment, the role of aquaculture, etc. Consequently, such questions lead to intriguing possibilities for research and collaboration.