The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reminds people that the recreational harvest season for bay scallops in Florida will begin June 25 and extend through Sept. 25. The FWC, in support of Gov. Rick Scott and Cabinet, added three weeks to this year’s season to help relieve Florida fishing communities suffering from possible economic hardships due to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Open scalloping areas on Florida’s Gulf coast extend from the west bank of the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County to the Pasco-Hernando county line near Aripeka. It is illegal to possess bay scallops while you’re in or on state waters outside the open harvest areas, or to land bay scallops outside the open areas.
There is a daily limit of 2 gallons of whole bay scallops in the shell or 1 pint of bay scallop meat per person. In addition, no more than 10 gallons of whole bay scallops in the shell or one-half gallon of bay scallop meat may be possessed aboard any vessel at any time. You are allowed to harvest bay scallops only by hand or with a landing or dip net. Bay scallops may not be harvested for commercial purposes.
Unless otherwise exempt, you will need a regular Florida saltwater fishing license when you use a boat to harvest scallops. If you wade from shore, you will need a regular Florida saltwater fishing license or a free resident shore-based license.
Divers and snorkelers are required to display a “divers-down” flag (red with a white diagonal stripe) while in the water. Boaters must stay at least 100 feet away from a divers-down flag in a river, inlet or channel. In open waters, boaters must stay 300 feet away from a divers-down flag.
During the season, scallop harvesters can assist FWC’s scallop researchers by completing an online survey at http://svy.mk/bayscallops. Harvesters can indicate where they harvest scallops, how many they collect and how long it takes to harvest them. Participants can also email BayScallops@MyFWC.com to ask questions or send additional information.
More information on bay scallops, including management rules, dive-flag regulations and boating safety is available online at MyFWC.com/Fishing (click on “Regulations” under “Saltwater Fishing”). Information about scallop research is available at MyFWC/Research/Saltwater under the “Mollusc” section.
Aaron Podey, 850-487-0554