After determining that two years of season extensions did not significantly impact the bay scallop population, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) decided June 28 to permanently extend the recreational season by adding two weeks to the end.
The decision was made at the FWC meeting in Palm Beach Gardens. Commissioners also directed staff to look into the possibility of a future commercial harvest of bay scallops. The commercial harvest of bay scallops has been closed in Florida state waters since 1994.
The recreational season, which started July 1 will now end Sept. 25. The extension will help increase business opportunities during a time of the year when other fisheries are closed and tourism has decreased. Bay scallops are known to be larger at the end of the summer, which may be a draw for some harvesters.
The commission extended the season temporarily in 2010 and 2011 to help alleviate economic hardships caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Bay scallops can be recreationally harvested in Gulf of Mexico state waters (shore to nine nautical miles) from the Pasco-Hernando County line to the west bank of the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County.
The recreational bag limit is two gallons of whole bay scallops or one pint of meat per person, per day, with a vessel limit of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops or half a gallon of meat.
There is no commercial harvest for bay scallops in Florida state waters.
Harvesters can assist the FWC's scallop researchers by completing an online survey at http://svy.mk/bayscallops. Harvesters can indicate where they harvest scallops, how many they collect and how long it takes to harvest them.
FWC staff and some vendors in harvest areas will distribute postage-paid survey cards that collect similar data.
Participants can email BayScallops@MyFWC.com to ask questions or send additional information.