Plenty of scallops this season

Fri, 11/17/2017 - 8:30am

The scallop season in the Great Salt Pond opened on Saturday, Nov. 4, and to the delight of seafood lovers, there appear to be plenty for the taking. Shellfish Commissioner Ray Boucher reported at the Commission’s last meeting that there weren’t as many scallops as last year, but “last year was a 10, this year’s an eight.  There’s plenty out there for everyone.”

Scallops are the last fishery to open for the year — oyster season started Sept. 15, and quahogs may be harvested all year. Don’t take any soft-shell clams, though, that fishery remains closed until further notice.

Quantities that may be harvested are limited on a per day basis, and there was some concern expressed at the meeting about people, particularly some from out of state, harvesting more than the legal limit of clams and then taking them off island to sell elsewhere. There were no specific allegations, just some observations from “a concerned citizen” regarding an incident that happened several weeks ago. The Shellfish Commission recommends keeping the situation on “the radar” and if you see someone taking what appears to be more than the legal limit, call the Harbormaster’s office. 

The daily, off-season, catch limit for clams and oysters is eight quarts each. The limit for scallops is one bushel (eight gallons), and the season will close Sunday, Dec. 31. The entire Great Salt Pond is now open, except for the buoyed section of Cormorant Cove and two other spawner sanctuary areas. 

In planning for next season, Shellfish Commission Chair Joe Fallon asked: “Do you want to do anything different next year?” He noted that the upweller, which has just gone through its second year of use, is not yet producing enough stock to replace the annual seeding of harvestable size clams. 

This year, 150,000 clams were grown in the upweller and they were about 25 millimeters when removed. Fallon said that was good, since they need to be at least 20 millimeters to survive predators. The clams have been moved to a “secret location” where they may continue growing. Later they may be moved around the pond with the help of the new bull rake the Commission has procured. 

Those predators come mainly in the form of invasive green crabs. Although the shellfish wardens set out traps for the crabs in the summer, there are so many, that as Fallon said: “It doesn’t seem to make a dent.”

While kids under the age of 14 don’t need to have their own licenses for shell fishing, they do need to be accompanied by an adult with a license. However, Harbors Assistant and Shellfish Commission Clerk Susanna Lehman told the Commissioners that kids actually want to have their own licenses, as a kind of memento. It was suggested that a rubber bracelet be used, perhaps with a different color for each month. Lehman said there was also an educational aspect. “It makes kids appreciate the rules.”

Boucher said that the colored bracelets would be visible to the shellfish wardens from a distance.  “Good idea,” he said.

More licenses would also bring in more revenues, which this year, so far, have been on a par with last year at $46,090. “That certainly justifies the purchasing of clams,” said Commissioner Wendell Corey.