Scallop season usually begins on the first of July and runs through September 24 and has done so for a very long time. This past May, Gov. Rick Scott asked the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to expand the harvest by three days in an effort to boost the economies of the scallop fisheries in Florida's Big Bend region. Last year, he asked for the season to start two days early so tourists and locals could enjoy scalloping over the weekend. At least there's more transparency in intent this year.
|Photo by Candace West|
The legal harvesting area runs northwest from Hernando County to the Mexico Beach Canal, and this year's FWC reports show that the scallop populations in the open harvest areas of St. Joseph Bay, St. Marks, Homosassa, and Steinhatchee have remained steady within the vulnerable numbers while the beds of the closed areas in St. Andrew Bay, Tampa Bay, Pine Island South, and Anclote have spiked lower in the vulnerable and collapsed populations. But marine biology is never a factor in politics.
These declines can be attributed to coastal development and impact on sea grass as well as overfishing the shark populations, which usually control the scallop-loving rays.
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