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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - Bay Scallop - stock status report

Marine Fisheries

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Bay Scallop

Bay Scallops

Stock Status – Concern – Bay scallop abundance has shown some improvement since no harvest was allowed from 2006 to 2008 and seasonal openings have occurred for a few years 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 2010. The main harvest season (late January - March) was not opened in 2011 due to limited availability of scallops.

Average Commercial Landings and Value – 2001-2010 – 6,535 lbs. of meat/$25,417

2010 Commercial Landings and Value – 336 lbs. of meat/$2,100

Average Recreational Landings – Not available

Status of Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) – The bay scallop FMP was adopted in November 2007. The FMP implemented prohibited take from 2006 to 2008 until an independent sampling indicator was established for re-opening in 2009. Target indices were established from fishery independent data collected before the red tide event in 1984 and 1985 in Core, Back, and Bogue sounds to determine re-opening the fisheries. Amendment 1 of the Bay Scallop FMP was finalized in November 2010 to provide more flexibility to open the fisheries as the bay scallop population recovers. Improving data collection on the biology, harvest, environment, and socioeconomic aspects relative to bay scallops is recommended throughout the FMP to provide more comprehensive information for assisting in future management decisions.

Research and Data Needs – Stock identification, recreational landings, recruitment, population abundance, and socioeconomic data, enhancement, cownose ray predation, habitat alterations and water quality impacts to bay scallop survival are recommended research items.

Current Minimum Size Limit – None

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, all areas south of Bogue Sound and Pamlico Sound). Only Pamlico Sound was opened during the 2010 bay scallop harvest season (Feb. 1 – Apr. 1, 2010) because the January 2010 sampling estimate was the highest on record and well above the level used to open the season in Pamlico Sound in 2009. All other areas remained closed in 2010 because they did not reach the target level for opening.
 
Size and Age at Maturity – 1.5 inches, (shell height)/6 months

Historical and Current Maximum Age – 2 years/1.5 years

Progressive harvest Indices and abundance Indices 2010 by region:
Core Sound (Oct-Dec) 1984-85 ln (scallops per minute):
    50%: 0.86; 75%: 1.29; 125%: 2.15; 2010: -0.54 ln (scallops per min.)
Bogue Sound (Oct-Dec) 1984-85 ln (scallops per minute):
     50%: 1.16; 75%: 1.74; 125%: 2.91; 2010: -1.12 ln (scallops per min.)
Back Sound (Oct-Dec) 1984-85 ln (scallops per minute):
    50%: 1.01; 75%: 1.52; 125%: 2.53; 2010: -1.10 ln (scallops per min.)
Pamlico Sound (Jan) 2010 ln (scallops per 1-meter square quadrant:
50%: -0.27; 75%: -0.23; 125%: -0.14; 2011: -1.99 ln (scallops per 1-meter square quadrant)

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 utilized for attachment, bay scallops utilize 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 herring gulls.

For more information, contact Tina Moore at Tina.Moore@ncdenr.gov or 1-800-682-2632 or (252) 808-8082.

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • (252) 726-7021 or 1-800-682-2632

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