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The Delicate Balancing Act of Scallop Harvesting off the Maine Coast [VIDEO]

Maine scallops are a treat among seafood lovers and fishermen alike and that represents a challenge for the Department of Marine Resources. The age-old question looms every scallop season. How do you fulfill the consumers demand, and meet the financial needs of Maine’s fishermen, without depleting the resource?

Last Fall I had the pleasure of meeting scallop diver Andy Mays, who had become some what of a local celebrity when news got out that Andy had mistakenly left samples of scallop gonads, destined for research at the University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center, in the wrong person’s car. When I reached Andy for a radio interview about the “missing” parts he invited me to join him on his boat opening morning of the scallop season for divers. He was so excited to be gaining access to a scallop bed in Southwest Harbor that had been shut down by the Department of Marine Resources for a few years specifically to allow the scallops in that area to mature. How could I possibly refuse this opportunity to be out on the ocean at sunrise? After all, I was fairly confident Andy would get us into the right lobster boat!

Having participated in marine research to support the scallop fishing industry Andy knew right where he was headed opening morning. When I got on board I was charged with the awesome responsibility of watching Andy’s air bubbles with boat mate, and retired Southwest Harbor Harbor Master Gene Thurston.

Since opening day the Department of Marine Resources has had to manage the resource to protect scallop beds from being completely depleted through over-fishing.  A variety of emergency rules have been posted that range from lowering fishermen’s daily possession limits to complete closures of harvesting locations along Maine’s coast.

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