Local scallop fans can now harvest bay scallops for a 10-day period in Pasco County.
“It’s like an adult Easter egg hunt,” said Amanda Nalley, a spokesperson for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). “You’re swimming around looking for these scallops in the water and it’s just a really good time to spend with family.”
The last time the waters off Pasco County were open to scallop harvesting was in 1994.
Now, scallopers can hunt in all state waters south of the Hernando – Pasco County line and north of the Anclote Key Lighthouse, essentially the border of Pinellas County. The scallop zone also includes all waters of the Anclote River.
In 1994, the FWC was concerned about the decreasing scallop population, Nalley said. This trial period from July 20 - 29 is a way to test the waters, she said.
“This was an opportunity to offer a season in an area where the scallop population is building back and has been building back,” said Nalley. “We’re definitely seeing scallops in that area and an opportunity to also work with that community, who wanted to see what it would be like to have a scallop season in that area.”
State rules say that scalloping is only allowed by hand or by using a net. The FWC’s daily bag limit is two gallons of shelled scallops, or one pint of scallop meat per person.
Nalley advised people to read the FWC’s information on bay scallop regulations before searching the water for them. She added that boaters must be within 300 feet of their dive flag in open water.
“We do ask people to be cognizant of when they are shucking their scallops and where they’re shucking their scallops,” said Nalley. “You always want to try to shuck your scallops in areas where the shells can be dispersed.”
Nalley is encouraging people to complete the FWC’s survey after they spend a day out scalloping. She said it will help researchers gain insight for future scallop seasons.