Government scientists are finding that sea scallop populations this year are thriving on the fishing grounds of George’s Bank in the North Atlantic. Scallops harvested there are helping to sustain the fishing fleet in Stonington.
Every year for the past three decades federal researchers have dredged the bottom of George’s Bank to get an estimate of the sea scallop population. About a dozen years ago they found very low numbers because of over-fishing --- so low the government closed off large areas to scalloping. That helped rebuild the scallop population. By 2004 the number of sea scallops increased ten fold. And the number landed in Connecticut reached a record high. Mathematical biologist Dvora Hart with the federal Northeast Fisheries Science Center says the most recent underwater research found sea scallop populations holding steady, with the highest numbers since the year 2000
“We saw gobs and gobs of small scallops out in Georges Bank this year, which is good news for the future.”
Connecticut fishermen travel far to George’s Bank, to the waters between Cape Cod and Nova Scotia. Nancy Balcom of Connecticut Sea Grant says it’s worth the trouble.
“Scallopers are the main reason why we still have a commercial fishing fleet in Stonington, at the moment. Sea scallops command a high price in the market and their value enables the fishermen to make a profit despite the high cost of harvesting them on George’s Bank.”
Last year Connecticut fishermen landed nearly 1.4 million pounds of scallops worth nearly $10 million dollars. Sea Scallops are the most valuable fishery in the state.