Scallop catches down again in Alaska
July 1, 2016
This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch — Alaska scallop catches take a big dip. I’ll tell you more after this …
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Alaska’s scallop fishery gets underway on July 1. A fleet of just three to four boats fish for weathervane scallops from Yakutat to the Bering Sea, with most of the catch coming from waters around Kodiak. Weathervanes are the largest scallops in the world with a shell diameter averaging ten inches. It can take up to five years for scallops to reach market size, and they can live up to 20 years.
Scallop boats drop big dredges that make tows along mostly sandy bottoms of strictly defined fishing regions. The fishery is closely monitored by onboard observers –
All boats must carry observers – it’s a heavy cost and hard for us to do at around $350-$400 a day. But it is mandatory and we accept that in order to go into the areas and make sure our bycatch and impact are minimal.
Jim Stone is owner of two scallop boats, which catch, package and freeze the shucked meats and can remain at sea until Thanksgiving. Scallop meats are the adductor muscle that keeps the shells closed. They are a wildly popular delicacy and can pay fishermen up to $10 per pound.
This year’s Alaska catch has dipped a bit from the usual nearly 500,000 pounds of shucked meats to just over 286-thousand pounds, the lowest harvest in nearly a decade. The breakdown is 125,000 pounds for the Yakutat region, 6,300 for Prince William Sound, 105,000 for the Kodiak district, 22,500 for the Alaska Peninsula, 10,000 pounds at Dutch Harbor and 7,500 pounds of shucked meats from the Bering Sea.
It’s pricy scallops that each year nudges Dutch Harbor out of the top spot for the nation’s most valuable seafood port. New Bedford, Massachusetts has held the lead for value for 15 years running – due to East coast scallop catches that can top 50 million pounds of shucked meats.
Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods. Ocean Beauty has contributed over 10 million meals to the U.S. Food Bank network, and is committed to ending hunger in America. www.oceanbeauty.com In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.