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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 36 Bay Scallops SSR 2016

Marine Fisheries

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Bay Scallop

Bay Scallops — 2016

Stock Status – Concern — Bay scallop abundance has shown some improvement since no harvest was allowed from 2006 to 2008 and seasonal openings have occurred in 2009, 2010, and 2013 in some areas since. High natural mortality from environmental change and predation cause annual variability in abundance within the areas. Fishery independent sampling showed low abundance in all areas in 2015. The main harvest season (last Monday in January through April 1) was not opened in any regions of the state in 2016 due to limited availability of scallops.

Average Commercial Landings and Value 2006-2015 – 3,054 lbs. of meat/$13,501

2015 Commercial Landings and Value – No open harvest season

Average Recreational Landings 2006-2015 – Not available 2015 – Not available

Status of Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) – The bay scallop FMP was adopted in November 2007. The management unit includes the bay scallop and its fisheries in all waters of coastal North Carolina. The FMP implemented prohibited take from 2006 to 2008 until an independent sampling indicator was established for re-opening in 2009. Amendment 1 of the Bay Scallop FMP was finalized in 2010 to provide more flexibility to open the fisheries as the bay scallop population recovers. Target indices were established from fishery independent data collected before the red tide event in 1984 and 1985 in Core, Back, and Bogue sounds. A separate sampling indicator for re-opening was developed in 2009 for Pamlico Sound. Amendment 2, which was adopted in 2015, continues to use the abundance thresholds for opening the harvest season and defining the harvest levels for all areas, except areas south of Bogue Sound. Areas south of Bogue Sound will not be managed with a specific abundance opening level, but will be opened or remain closed based on NCDMF judgement from sampling in this region. Expanded sampling has occurred in all areas including areas south of Bogue Sound to provide more comprehensive information for assisting in future management decisions.

Research and Data Needs – Stock identification, recreational landings, recruitment, population abundance, treading impacts on juveniles and adults, stock enhancement, habitat alterations and water quality impacts to bay scallop survival are recommended research items.

2015 Regulations No minimum size limit.

Harvest Season A commercial or recreational harvest season will not be opened unless at least 50% of the fishery independent sampling target index is reached for a region. Progressive harvest triggers are set at 50%, 75%, and 125% of the target index within each water body (Core Sound, Bogue Sound, Back Sound, and Pamlico Sound). Areas south of Bogue Sound will not be managed with a specific abundance opening level, but will be opened or remain closed based on NCDMF judgement from sampling in this region. If the season were opened it is allowed from the last Monday in January through April 1. Trip limits and fishing days will progressively increase if sampling shows bay scallop abundance is higher in an area.

Size and Age at Maturity – 1.5 inches (shell height)/6 months

Maximum Age – 2 years

Current Progressive Harvest Indices and Abundance Indices by Region Bay Scallop Monitoring Program:
Core Sound (Oct-Dec) 1984-85 natural log Catch Per Unit Effort (lnCPUE) (scallops per minute tow): 50%: 0.86; 75%: 1.29; 125%: 2.15; 2015: -2.14 lnCPUE (scallops per min.)
Bogue Sound (Oct-Dec) 1984-85 lnCPUE (scallops per minute tow):
50%: 1.17; 75%: 1.75; 125%: 2.91; 2015: -1.80 lnCPUE (scallops per min.)
Back Sound (Oct-Dec) 1984-85 lnCPUE (scallops per minute tow):
50%: 1.01; 75%: 1.52; 125%: 2.53; 2015: -2.06 lnCPUE (scallops per min.)
Pamlico Sound (Jan) 2009 lnCPUE (scallops per 1-meter square quadrat):
50%: -0.27; 75%: -0.23; 125%: -0.14; 2016: -2.29 lnCPUE (scallops per 1-meter square quadrat)

Habits and Habitats – Bay scallops are estuarine-dependent mollusks found in grass beds. Bay scallops are hermaphroditic (contain both sex cells) bivalves and mature and spawn in a year. Their lifespan is only 12-26 months. In North Carolina, bay scallops spawn predominantly from August through January and again in March through May. The larvae go through several swimming stages before attaching to a suitable substrate such as seagrass. Upon reaching a size of approximately 1 inch (20-30 mm), bay scallops drop to the bottom. Although other benthic structures can be used for attachment, bay scallops use seagrass beds almost exclusively, and are therefore highly dependent on this habitat for successful recruitment. Bay scallops are filter feeders and feed on benthic diatoms. Predators of the bay scallop include cownose rays, blue crabs, starfish, whelks, and sea birds.

For more information, please contact Jeffrey Dobbs at Jeffrey.Dobbs@ncdenr.gov or 800-682-2632 or 252-808-8193.

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

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