HALLOWELL, Maine — With a unanimous vote, the Maine Department of Marine Resources Advisory Council on Wednesday approved the proposed dates for the 2010-2011 scallop season.
The season will start on Wednesday, Dec. 15, and end Sunday, March 27, 2011. During the months of December and March, scallop fishing will not be permitted on Thursdays and Fridays. It also will not be permitted on Dec. 25, which is Christmas Day. For the months of January and February, scallop fishing will not be permitted on Saturdays and Sundays.
The banned days were varied to account for a difference between fishermen who fish full time and those who don’t, according to industry and regulatory officials. Full-time fishermen generally prefer to fish from Monday through Friday so they can spend time with their families on weekends, while those who don’t fish full time tend to want to fish on weekends so they can work other jobs during the week.
Those who support fishing on the weekends indicated that the compromise would provide full-time and part-time fishermen the chance to take their children out fishing with them two days a week during the months that weekend fishing is permitted, according to Togue Brawn, marine resources coordinator for DMR.
Because of sharply declining catches, the Maine scallop season has been shortened significantly in recent years, from 132 days during the 2007-2008 season to the current limit of 70. Other conservation measures also have been implemented, such as increasing the minimum size fishermen can keep, and setting a daily limit of 200 pounds of scallop meat per license. In 2009, DMR closed down 12 sections of the coast between Casco Bay and the St. Croix River to scallop harvesting. The closures are expected to last for at least another two years.
Maine’s annual harvest of scallop meat peaked at more than 3.8 million pounds in 1981, for which the scallop fishing fleet was paid more than $15 million. Between 1982 and 2000 the yearly statewide haul generally wavered between 650,000 and 2 million pounds, with values of those catch totals fluctuating between $4 million and $10 million, according to DMR statistics.
Last year, scallop fishermen harvested only 85,000 pounds of scallop meat in Maine, earning less than $600,000 statewide for the overall catch.
The DMR advisory council, which has 13 members, also voted Wednesday in favor of changing how certain lobster gear limits are set, a proposed limited entry program into the lobster fishery for offshore island residents, and a proposed menhaden pilot program.