Maine's 2018-19 Scallop Season Gets Underway Soon
Augusta - The 2018-2019 Maine scallop season will soon start, with few changes from last season.
As in the 2017-2018 season, there will be a daily possession limit of 15 gallons of shucked scallops for Zone 1 and Zone 2, which together stretch from the New Hampshire Border to the Lubec-Campobello Bridge. There will also be a daily possession limit of 10 gallons for Zone 3 which includes Cobscook Bay and the St. Croix River.
For Zone 1, a 60-day season for draggers will begin on December 10, 2018 and end on March 28, 2019, while the Zone 1 season for divers will begin November 20, 2018 and end April 20, 2019.
For Zone 2, the 70-day season for draggers will start on December 3, 2018 and end March 28, 2019. For Zone 2, the 70-day season for divers will run from December 1, 2018 to April 13, 2019.
In Zone 3, draggers will have a 50-day season which begins on December 3, 2018 and ends March 27, 2019. Zone 3 divers will also have a 50-day season which starts on December 1, 2018 and ends March 28, 2019.
Areas in Zones 1 and 3 are again designated as Limited Access Areas, meaning harvesting in those areas will be limited to fewer days a week than in other areas to allow the resource to re-build. In Zone 1, those areas include Casco Bay, the Sheepscot River, the Damariscotta River, Muscle Ridge near South Thomaston, and Western Penobscot Bay Area. In Zone 3, the Limited Access Areas include Whiting/Dennys Bays.
In Zone 2, rotational management, which is like crop rotations in agriculture, will be used to support resource rebuilding. Areas open this season in Zone 2 had been closed for the previous two seasons.
Maine state territorial waters surrounding Machias Seal Island and North Rock will be open to harvest during the entire month of January 2019 in addition to the open days in the Zone 2 calendar, providing additional opportunity for Zone 2 harvesters on days when other areas in the Zone are closed.
Targeted closures, due to resource depletion, high concentrations of seed or sublegal scallops or the presence of spat-producing scallops will again be implemented for the entire season to support resource rebuilding. Areas closed include Lower Muscle Ridge, Eastern Casco Bay, the Upper Sheepscot River, the New Meadows River, Card Cove and Beals Island Bridge.
A provision that caps the daily per vessel limit of diver-harvested scallops has also been removed. The daily limit for divers now applies to individuals, providing more incentive for multiple divers to work from the same boat. In a winter fishery with set fishing days, having multiple divers working together improves harvester safety.
In addition, drag size restrictions for the Kittery area, Swan's Island Conservation area, and Gouldsboro Bay have been removed. Harvesters in those areas are authorized to use any drag size, provided it does not exceed the State maximum of 10 feet, six inches.
As in past seasons, areas along the coast will be closed by the Department using emergency rulemaking when 30 to 40 percent of the volume of legal sized scallops have been harvested. The 30-40 percent trigger has been shown to allow the resource to regenerate sufficiently to ensure a commercial harvest in the future.
Using information collected during the season from industry and Marine Patrol and from in-season trawl surveys, the Department can determine how much legal-size resource remains on the bottom and when to close areas.