Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

VIMS Department/Program

Marine Advisory Program (MAP)

Publication Date



Fishery Resource Grant FRG 2017- 09


The Atlantic sea scallop (Placopecten magellanicus) resource supports large offshore fisheries on Georges Bank and the Mid-Atlantic bight. Sea scallops are bivalves living on the sea bottom along the continental shelf and are largely harvested by dredges outfitted with bags constructed of steel rings with inside diameter of 4” and designed to select out certain size scallops. Dredges are towed along the sea floor where things in its path that are not deflected (fish/turtle excluders on dredges) or able to swim away (avoid the dredge) are collected in the dredge bag. Dredges are hauled back on-board, bags dumped of their catch, and then put back overboard for the next tow. Depending largely on bottom type (hard, soft, rocky) and tow time/speed, the amount of targeted scallops varies along with the amount of non-targeted catch, as rocks, debris, old/cut shell, starfish/sand dollars, and bycatch (fish, crabs). Once dumped on deck, the catch is “shacked”, with crew culling out scallops from the rest of the non-targeted catch. Depending on bottom type, the dredge bags can become loaded with non-targeted bycatch and “trash”, resulting in increased labor culling scallops. The marketable part of the bivalve is the adductor muscle (meat) that holds the two shells together. Scallop meats are shucked from the shell at sea, typically during periods between tows, with the shells and viscera thrown overboard. Scallops meats are sold by the count (number per pound) with a higher price paid for the larger meats. The larger the scallop shell, the larger the meat that is shucked from it.


Sea scallop fishery