A welcome surprise for islanders: Bay scallop season is now open
that the Pamlico Sound bay scallop fishery opens Monday, Feb. 1, spread
around Hatteras Island like butter on a hot griddle.
The state announced the opening Friday, Jan. 30, after analyzing
results from sampling tests run in eastern Pamlico Sound late in
estimate of bay scallop abundance was the highest recorded in the three
years the Division of Marine Fisheries has sampled in the area.
opening is in accordance with the state’s Bay Scallop Fishery
Management Plan, which allows for bay scallop harvests when populations
reach predetermined thresholds,” said Louis Daniel, DMF director.
catch-per-unit effort in the January, 2010, sampling averaged 3.44
scallops per square meter.
figure stands in sharp contrast to October, 2009, testing that
indicated fewer than one scallop per meter, a level that does not
support harvest, according to state biologists.
Island fishermen were stunned by the October results, calling the
results an anomaly that did not jibe with what they were seeing in the
sound. Some suggested that the disappointing results might
been influenced by the heavy rains and winds that marked October or by
water temperatures much higher than in previous sampling periods.
captain Scott Caldwell, who operates Coastal Inshore Charters in
Hatteras village, said the discrepancy between the October scientific
sampling and what he saw on the water everyday puzzled him.
He runs his
boat, the Elizabeth Grace, on fishing and clamming trips, sometimes
twice a day, for more than 150 days each year.
been doing this 15 years and I’d never seen the scallops so
plentiful before that they interfered with clamming,” he said.
and other island residents called DMF to express their frustration.
people at DMF were interested in our concerns and agreed to sample the
area again and reassess if those results showed something different
from the October sampling,” Caldwell said.
bay scallop season comes at a slow time for inshore commercial
fishermen on the island. Fishermen don’t make large profits
in the fishery, but say the scallop season helps fill the void between
southern flounder and blue crab fishing.
also helps island families augment their food budgets.
Daniel said the Pamlico Sound scallop fishery will be managed under the
same rules as last year.
fishermen will be allowed to harvest up to five bushels of scallops on
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Recreational fishermen will be allowed one-half bushel on Saturdays and
can be taken by hand, with hand rakes, hand tongs, dip nets, and
scoops. The season will close April 1.
will remain closed in other parts of the coast.
2010 season is just the second season in North Carolina since
2005. The fishery was closed for both commercial and
fishermen in 2006 after commercial harvests flat-lined for two
consecutive years. A management plan adopted the following
set the biological thresholds for re-opening the fishery.