Weathervane Scallop Season

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This is Fish Radio. I’m Stephanie Mangini. Scallop Season kicks off today. Hear more after this…

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July marks the start of a lot more fisheries besides salmon in Alaska. Among them – scallops. A fleet of just three to four boats are fishing for weathervane scallops from Yakutat to the Bering Sea, with most of the catch coming from waters around Kodiak. Fish and Game managers gave a combined total quota of 400,000 pounds divided among the three areas for the 2013/14 season.

  “The north east district GHL is 55,000 pounds, the Shelikof district GHL is just over a 100,000lbs, and the southwest district which is off the south end of Alatak Island or Alatak Bay is 25,000 pounds.”

Fish and Games Mark Stichert is a biologist for groundfish and shellfish in Kodiak-

“Overall these GHL’s are fairly similar to what we have seen the last couple of years.”

This  years quota is 5,000 pounds shy from last years. Not including the Cook Inlet area scallop quota.

“In the Kodiak area which I am responsible for; in the beginning of 2011 we saw a slight declining increase in scallop abundance. Based on some of the observer survey data that we have collected.”

The fishery is closely monitored by on-board observers. State managers keep a close eye on the stocks, and catches have been at about half a million pounds for many years.

“It appears to be relatively stable. At this point it does not appear there is any significant recruitment, so we are not seeing a lot of small scallops coming up. But it is difficult to predict what is going to happen in the future.”

Weathervanes are the largest scallops in the world with a shell diameter averaging ten inches.  Scallop boats drop big dredges that make tows along mostly sandy bottoms of strictly defined fishing regions.

It can take up to five years for scallops to reach market size, and they can live up to 20 years. The scallop season is one of Alaska’s smallest and slowest fisheries starting in July and staying open until the middle of February the following year.

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – serving Alaska’s fishing communities since 1910. On the web at www.oceanbeauty.com. In Kodiak I’m Stephanie Mangini.

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