Atlantic Sea Scallop

The Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Institute (MFI) brings together fishermen, scientists and students on important research projects such as the ongoing Atlantic sea scallop program, which includes scallop tagging, habitat mapping and the effects of fishing on marine habitat. Scientists were instrumental in working with the commercial scallop fishing industry in research surveys to improve the data required to accurately assess the condition of the sea scallop resource.

Cooperative Video Survey: Abundance and Distribution
In concert with the commercial sea scallop industry, scientists have completed 98 video cruises surveying Georges Bank and the Mid-Atlantic since 1999. The survey coverage encompassed the entire scallop resource (approximately 60,000 km2) from 2003 through 2007. This is the world's largest video survey of the sea floor, containing a library of over 220,000 samples. Since 1999, these data have brought a new level of accuracy and precision to abundance estimates of scallops and other benthic invertebrates, and to habitat maps for the closed and open areas of Georges Bank and the Mid-Atlantic.

Life History
Sea scallop life history research examines growth, predation, and reproduction. Fishermen say that scallops grow at different rates in different areas. The sea scallop tagging studies estimate growth rates of scallops in particular regions of Georges Bank and the Mid-Atlantic Bight to enhance rotational fisheries management strategies. The dissection study examines sea scallop meat yield across both space and time.

Habitat Mapping
For the continental shelf, habitat data are presently so sparse that a map resolution of 100 nautical miles is not reliable. The scallop video survey, which has a much higher resolution of four samples per nine nautical miles, will revolutionize our understanding of the continental shelf marine habitat.

Effects of Fishing on Marine Habitat
Portions of the Nantucket Lightship Closed Area and Closed Area I that had been closed to sea scallop fishing since 1994 were opened for a limited harvest from August 2000 to February 2001. Using the video survey, changes in the marine invertebrate and fish communities were closely monitored. This study determined that the dynamic environment caused greater changes in the marine habitat than these short-term fisheries, suggesting that rotational management may be more environmentally sound than other management strategies.

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For additional information, please contact:

Kevin Stokesbury
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
School for Marine Science and Technology
200 Mill Road - Suite 325
Fairhaven, MA 02719
Email: kstokesbury@umassd.edu
Office: 508-910-6373
Fax: 508-910-6396

Michael C. Marino II
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
School for Marine Science and Technology
200 Mill Road - Suite 325
Fairhaven, MA 02719
Email: mmarino@umassd.edu
Office: 508-910-6322
Fax: 508-910-6396

Scientists and fisherman tag scallops on a cooperative tagging cruise