Maine Scallop Season Nearing Completion
Posted: February 21, 2013
Deliveries to New York City coming soon!
Posted: January 15, 2013
HOW DO I BUY REAL MAINE SCALLOPS?
Posted: December 7, 2012
FIRST CHOICE: buy from a fisherman (this should always be your first choice).
SECOND CHOICE: buy from me, Rosemont Market or Browne Trading.
I’ll soon have a new section of my website with information on how to order scallops. Basically, I’ll be shipping them by the gallon or half gallon, or if you’re lucky enough to live in southern or Mid Coast Maine, I can meet you to complete the sale.
There are VERY few places in Maine where I would be confident in the provenance of the scallops offered. Rosemont Market sells my scallops, so I’d encourage you to go there. Browne Trading is also very reputable. There are plenty of other reputable fishmongers in Portland and other areas, but the thing is, if they’re buying from another dealer, they can’t guarantee what happened to those scallops between the time they were harvested and the time they received them. They may believe the scallops to be fresh and dry, and from Maine fishermen, but with the prevalence of seafood fraud, it’s hard to trust anyone 100%.
So you should ABSOLUTELY be buying directly from fishermen whenever possible. And if that’s not possible, then with only a few exceptions, you take your chances.
My goal is to change that. And if enough consumers start demanding Maine scallops, and start asking not only where are those scallops from but who caught them and when and by the way, what’s the name of his boat, then buying Maine scallops will get a lot easier in the years to come.
So let’s work on that: “Where are those scallops from? Who harvested them? What’s the name of his boat? What day were they harvested?”
Thanks for helping us all!
First day in the limited access areas (former closures)
Posted: December 5, 2012
I went to Bass Harbor yesterday to buy scallops from Maurice, Junior and Preston. They fished in the Blue Hill Limited Access Area and the areas just outside it. There were roughly 40 boats fishing in the Limited Access Area, which is a lot of boats for such a small place. DMR will certainly close the area down soon to preserve what’s there, but for right now, it’s sure producing some beautiful scallops. Check out the photos below. By the way, if you’re wondering why the scallops are so colorful, it’s because scallops in their natural state vary from whitish to pinkish to grayish to outright orange. The color variation is natural, but it’s washed away when scallops get soaked (and unfortunately, most scallops are soaked). Why the orange scallops? Female scallops need a carotenoid called astaxanthin to produce roe. If they have an abundance of this pigment, it’s stored in the adductor muscle. These vibrant “butterscotch” scallops are highly prized by fishermen, who say they’re super sweet. I agree, as does my father, who was VERY pleased to see the scallops I brought him this morning.
By the way, these scallops are for sale at Rosemont Market (Portland and Yarmouth), and they’ll appear on plates at the Corner Room, The Front Room, The Grill Room, Yosaku, Miyake, the Farmer’s Table, the Royal River Grill, Solo Bistro and Henry and Marty’s. So come and get them folks, they’re delicious.
2012-2013 SEASON OPENS!!!
Posted: December 3, 2012
A Busy Spring and Summer
Posted: August 10, 2012
Apologies for not posting in quite some time. It hasn’t been due to lack of activity – quite the contrary, in fact. There’s been a lot going on in the past few months and I’ve been neglectful of my posts in favor of working on management issues and research.
In May, I attended the World Fishing Congress in Edinburgh. There were an impressive mix of attendees and speakers from all over the world for three days of discussion on fisheries science. Following that I headed to the Isle of Man, a small island nation located in the Irish Sea between Scotland and Ireland. They fish for two types of scallops there – a large King scallop (Pecten maximus) that’s harvested by dredge over the winter, and a small Queen scallop (Aequipecten opercularis) harvested by trawl in the summer months. The Isle of Man Queen scallop fishery was actually first scallop fishery certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.
I’ll be catching up on posts in the coming weeks, describing more about the trip and subsequent management meetings here in Maine, but for now, here are a few photos from the trip:
Isle of Man Visit, May 2012
Posted: June 8, 2012
Recently, I spent two weeks in the Isle of Man, a nation wedged in the Irish Sea between Scotland and Ireland. The Isle of Man has a small but well-respected fishery for both King scallops (a larger scallop, harvested in the winter via dredge) and Queen scallops, or Queenies, harvested in the summer via trawl. I became aware of the Isle of Man a few years ago, while researching closed areas that might prove informative here in Maine. Fishermen and scientists in the Isle of Man have employed closures for over 10 years now, and although fishermen originally opposed the closures, they’re now so convinced of their benefits they’ve actually requested new ones, and are opposed to opening any of the original closures. These fishermen believe the increased reproductive output of the large, aggregated scallops in the closed areas produce enough spawn to populate areas outside the closures.
It’ll be a long time before we get to that place here in Maine, but it’s nice to know that progress has been made in other parts of the world. And currently, I’m working to establish a program so fishermen in the Isle of Man, Maine, and possibly other areas of the world can communicate more regularly to share their knowledge and experience. Establishing closed areas and increasing profits in the scallop industry can be hard – we may as well work together on it!
Trigger Mechanism Essential to Effective Management
Posted: April 13, 2012
Several weeks ago, DMR introduced a rotational management that would capitalize on the lessons learned from the original closed areas and use what’s been learned from fisheries around the world to increase the profitability of Maine’s scallop fishery.
I believe rotational management offers the best opportunity for a profitable Maine scallop fishery. The plan DMR has proposed is not perfect, but they have asked for industry’s suggestions on how to make it work, and are willing to consider different approaches in different parts of the state. I attended the meetings in Whiting, Milbridge, Ellsworth and Hallowell, and the differences in perspective were surprisingly clear: East of Schoodic, people were relatively unified in support of rotational management; west of Owl’s Head, people seemed to favor a different approach, and in between, opinions were mixed (my observations).
Regardless of the approach(es) we take, one thing is certain: we do not have the data to accurately determine the “right” number of days each closed area should be open. Any attempt to set a number now carries great risk: too many days will quickly deplete resource and erase the benefit of three years of sacrifice; too few will minimize economic benefit and erode faith in (and adherence to) management.
I believe it is critical to develop a trigger mechanism to indicate when to stop harvesting each closed area. We need to keep these closed areas productive for years to come. We cannot wait until an area is in danger of “imminent depletion” to shut it down. Profits will be maximized if we stop harvesting long before that happens.
So what will that trigger mechanism be? We don’t have the resources to place observers on every boat, and I’m not sure mandatory landing ports are a good idea. Whatever we do must be simple to administer, analyze, and enforce. I believe a catch per unit of effort (CPUE) indicator is the best option.
This mechanism must account for fishermen’s different practices and abilities, so should capture data from a large number of fishermen. It must be simple to understand, administer, enforce and analyze.
I’m going to throw an idea out there that I believe will work in the productive closed areas (and possibly others). Please feel free to critique this idea and to offer others.
Call system for closed areas:
All boats fishing in a closed area must radio in to Marine Patrol the moment they start fishing, and the moment they’re done for the day. If they’re caught towing prior to radioing in or after they’ve “called out”, they’re issued a violation. This will give us an idea of how long it will take to achieve the daily limit. Times of radio “ins” and “outs” will be recorded, and the DMR pilot can fly over for spot checks to augment on-the water enforcement. We can assume all fishermen will reach the daily limit in the productive areas, and that it’ll take longer to reach that limit once the resource starts to decline (we see this in Cobscook every year). Is it perfect? No. But I think it could work, and I don’t think too many fishermen would want to stay out extra hours in the beginning just to game the system.
OK, give me your thoughts!
Community Meetings Illustrate Differences
Posted: April 5, 2012
DMR held four meetings earlier this week to solicit feedback on a recently-developed rotational management proposal. While the fishermen in Milbridge and Whiting were interested in the proposal, those in Ellsworth and Hallowell (Penobscot Bay West) were less enthusiastic.
These differences illustrate the difficulties of maintaining a mobile fleet while still tailoring regulations to local preferences. It’s also why fishermen so often accuse managers of “not listening.” When groups of fishermen express diametrically opposed opinions concerning how management should proceed, the eventual compromise often “confirms” many fishermen’s belief that managers weren’t listening to them. In fact, they were listening to them express their opinion, and the guy from the next harbor express a completely different opinion, and the guy from the next harbor express still a different opinion.
I was disheartened to see, yet again, how a vocal uninformed minority can stymie real progress. At several of the meetings, loud mouthed individuals who aren’t even involved in the scallop fishery (at least not legally) managed to keep the meetings off track and seriously reduce their productivity.
Fortunately, Trish DeGraaf and Commissioner Keliher stayed on task, and although they were not presented with the cohesive recommendation they had wanted, they did collect a lot of information about Maine’s scallop fishery and fishermen. They’ve reconfirmed their commitment to putting that knowledge to good use as they work with the SAC and industry to craft regulations for the 2012 season.
A sincere thanks and appreciation is due to Commissioner Keliher, Ms. DeGraaf, and all the open-minded scallop fishermen who had to sit through ignorant diatribes at some of these meetings. This process is difficult, but the rewards at the end will be great.
Hard work with a big potential payoff
Posted: March 29, 2012
With the 2011/2012 scallop season coming to a close, now is the time to focus our efforts on ensuring a more sustainable and profitable future. Recent events in Blue Hill Bay highlight the dangers of management loopholes, and also illustrate the fallacy of an “economics will take care of it” argument. Maine’s state water scallop fishery has the potential to supply long-term sustainable profits to fishermen, dealers, and many others, but it’s going to take a lot of work from a lot of people to help make those profits a reality. Please do your part by coming to next week’s meetings.