It’s been a particularly successful year for bay scalloping in Chilmark, town shellfish constable Isaiah Scheffer confirmed this week, with landings way up for both commercial and recreational shellfishermen. In a voicemail left for the Gazette, Mr. Scheffer reported that to date commercial shellfishermen have landed over 2,000 bushels of scallops while recreational fishermen have landed 245 bushels.
Bay scallops are again being shipped to the mainland after a slowdown in the market two weeks ago. On Nov. 30, several local handlers of wholesale seafood reported having difficulty finding markets on the mainland, with some shellfishermen told to stay out of the waters until demand increased.
As of last week, lines to the mainland had been reopened.
Fans of local bay scallops are in luck; commercial fishermen, not so much. An abundance of fresh scallops on the market, combined with diminished interest in the product off-Island, has dropped the price of the shellfish.
Local fishmarkets said Island bay scallops were selling for $15 a pound Friday, down from as high as $20 earlier this year.
Bay scallopers in Chilmark are being asked to concentrate on Nashaquitsa Pond until early next month in order to make the most efficient use of a healthy crop of scallops this year.
The Chilmark selectmen voted Tuesday to close Menemsha Pond to scalloping from Nov. 21 through Dec. 3, and increase the daily limit in Quitsa to three struck bushels. The selectmen also agreed to open the area outside of Chocker’s Creek from the eastern buoy defining the closed area to the town line beginning Nov. 21.
As the bay scallop season begins, reports and forecasts are in from the five Island towns that have a fishery. And if the predictions from shellfish biologists are accurate, scalloping in Edgartown, Chilmark and Aquinnah will be solid this year, while Oak Bluffs and Tisbury may be a step off from last year.
Opening day for the bay scallop season is as much a part of the
Vineyard culture as any holiday. On Saturday, dozens of smiling Tisbury
residents turned out in Lagoon Pond to harvest bushels of the tasty
sweet bivalves, and they had little trouble finding them.
Holders of family recreational permits harvested 528 bushels last
weekend. Those bay scallops would be valued between $40,000 and $50,000
if they were sold on the retail market.
Lagoon Pond has millions of baby bay scallops. On Tuesday afternoon,
David Grunden, shellfish constable for Oak Bluffs, was out moving some
of them around. There is a gold mine of baby bay scallops out there.
While this doesn't help the fishermen of today, it may be a sign
of a good year to follow.
Vineyard consumers are enjoying the lowest retail prices on bay scallops in at least ten years thanks to a renewed abundance of the tasty bivalve on Nantucket.
The Nantucket resurgence has been pushing down wholesale as well as retail prices on both Islands.
At Menemsha Seafood in Chilmark, owner Stanley Larsen said the retail price for bay scallops is around $16. His cousin, Louis Larsen of the Net Result, a fish market in Vineyard Haven, said the retail price is about the same at his store.