Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Marine Advisory Services (MAS)
Marine Resource Report No. 2018-06
For the sea scallop, Placopecten magellanicus, the concepts of space and time have emerged as the basis of an effective management tool. The strategy of closing or limiting activities in certain areas for specific lengths of time has gained support as a method to conserve and enhance the scallop resource. In the last decade, rotational area management has provided a mechanism to protect juvenile scallops from fishing mortality by closing areas based upon scallop abundance and age distribution. Approximately half of the sea scallop industry’s current annual landings come from areas under this rotational harvest strategy. While this represents a management success, it also highlights the extent to which landings are dependent on the success of this strategy. The continued prosperity of scallop spatial management is dependent on both periodic and large incoming year classes, as well as a mechanism to delineate the scale of a recruitment event and subsequently monitor the growth and abundance of these scallops over time. Current and accurate information related to the abundance and distribution of adult and juvenile scallops is essential for managers to respond to changes in resource subunits.
Acknowledging the importance of accurate, timely and meaningful information necessary to meet the management challenges presented by this situation, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) conducted a stratified random survey of the Nantucket Lightship Access Area (NLCA), the Extension Closure (EC) to the east and Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) area to the west in the summer of 2016 and 2017. The primary objective of these surveys was to assess the abundance and distribution of sea scallops in this area, culminating with spatially explicit annual estimates of total and exploitable biomass. Secondary project objectives for each survey year included: 1. Finfish bycatch species composition and catch rates, 2. Scallop biological sampling (length:weight relationship, disease, product quality parameters and shell samples for ageing) and 3. Selectivity and relative efficiency analysis of the New Bedford Style Dredge (NBD). As an additional objective, we also conducted a tow duration experiment after the conclusion of each survey to assess the impact of a shorten tow duration on scallop catch.
Submitted to: National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Fisheries Science Center
Award Number: NA16NMF4540044
Rudders, D. B., & Roman, S. (2018) An Assessment of Sea Scallop Abundance and Distribution in the Nantucket Lightship Closed Area and Surrounds: Final Report. Marine Resource Report No. 2018-06. Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary. http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.21220/m2-pa13-za07