Maine Seafood Guide - Scallops

Scallops

species description | season | status | regulatory authority |
harvest method | recreational harvest | health benefits & risks | 
buying & preparing | brands | certifications | links | featured harvester



Species Description
Atlantic sea scallop Placopecten magellanicus

Wild. Research efforts to culture scallops are ongoing, but no commercial cultured product is currently available.

The Atlantic sea scallop ranges from Labrador to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. What we call a “scallop” is one part of the sea scallop animal, the adductor muscle. This muscle is more developed in the scallop than in oysters and clams because scallops are active swimmers, and use the muscle to open and close their shell, a motion which propels them through the water.



Season
December - March in Maine state waters, year-round in federal waters.
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Status (see the About page for definitions)
In recent years, declining numbers of scallops in state waters prompted DMR to implement emergency and experimental closures to protect the resource. The season was restricted in 2012-2013 with areas closed to harvesting as they approached unsustainable levels. Refer to the Department of Marine Resources for the latest updates on Maine scallop season. Harvest size is limited to scallops 4” or larger.

Atlantic sea scallops in federal waters along the Northwestern Atlantic Coast are not overfished nor is overfishing occurring. Offshore scallop fishing areas (beyond three miles from shore) are opened and closed on a rotational basis, with a limit on total annual catch and limits on bycatch of yellowtail flounder. The fishery is also scheduled to protect sea turtles (more from Fishwatch.gov).
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Regulatory Authority
Inshore fishery (within three miles of shore) is managed by Department of Marine Resources. Offshore fishery governed by New England Fishery Management Council.
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Harvest Method
The majority of scallops are harvested by mechanical drag; in state waters some are harvested by hand by SCUBA divers (“dive caught” or “diver scallops”). Scallops are shucked on the boat shortly after being harvested.
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Recreational Harvest
Recreational SCUBA divers may take scallops with a non-commercial marine harvesting license from the Department of Marine Resources.
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Health Benefits & Risks
Scallops are a low-fat and low-calorie source of selenium, but contain lower amounts of omega-3 fatty acids compared to other seafood choices. Scallops are low in mercury. While in some countries people eat the entire scallop (“roe on”), US federal law currently limits scallop consumption to the meat (adductor muscle) only; scallops are shucked on the boat and other parts of the scallop (which can be affected by red tide) are thrown overboard.
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Buying & Preparing
Fresh scallops will keep refrigerated for a few days. They freeze well. Look for “dry” scallops that have not been soaked in sodium tripolyphosphate (sometimes indicated by a milky white liquid in the container). Scallops can be ivory, cream, or even slightly orange or gray in color, with a fresh, sweet smell. Scallops labeled as “dayboat,” “dive,” or “diver” indicate harvest in state waters, and therefore should only be available fresh during the state scallop season, typically in the winter.
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Companies, Brands, and Labels

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Certifications & Verifications
Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested
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Links
Everything you need to know about scallops.
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Featured Harvester
Arthur Alley, Spruce Head
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species description | season | status | harvest method | recreational harvest
health benefits & risks | 
buying & preparing | brands certifications | links | featured harvester