Bay scallops are bivalve mollusks that only live up to 26 months and grow to the length of four inches. In the early stages of a scallop’s life, it attaches to the leaves and stems of sea grass. As it matures, it sinks to the bottom where it continues to grow. Environmental factors, such as temperature, rainfall, and sea grass health play a critical part in scallop abundance and yearly landings can widely vary.
The status of the bay scallop fishery in NC is "depleted". Bay scallops never completely recovered from a red tide in 1987 and several hurricanes in the 1990s so that they are now more susceptible to environmental events, natural predation from cownose rays and fishing effort. In recent years, harvest has decreased to essentially no landings. Under a Bay Scallop Fishery Management Plan, the Division of Marine Fisheries has closed both commercial and recreational bay scallop season indefinitely to allow the population to increase.
For more information on Stock Status and what it means for shellfish and other fisheries in North Caroline, view the annual Stock Status Report.
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