Maine's Scallop Fishery Rebounding, But There's A Catch

Maine’s scallop fishermen are benefiting from a new management system that has made scallops more plentiful along the ocean bottom off Maine’s coast, particularly in the rich scallop beds Down East.

Despite the good news, fishermen still struggle to win a premium price for their scallops in the global marketplace. They compete in a market dominated by a large-scale commercial scallop fishery centered in New Bedford, Massachusetts, which controls more than 90 percent of the market and supplies scallops that have been caught by draggers and packed in ice for days. Maine fishermen, conversely, retrofit their offseason lobster boats and drag for scallops on day trips, providing significantly fresher scallops.

An aggressive new regulatory plan in Maine – modeled in part on the successful efforts to revive the once-depleted fishery in federal waters more than a decade ago – seems to be the reason for the increase in scallops in the state’s waters and a threefold increase in the number of active scallop fishermen, who now number 420.

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