Scallop, Bay – Includes North Carolina
Bay Scallops are found in shallow estuaries and bays along the US Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts. They typically live for 2 years, and become sexually mature at 1 year.
They are commercially fished in Massachusetts, New York and North Carolina, and are primarily caught using small dredges. These dredges are destructive to seafloor habitats, including the seagrass beds that are critical to the survival of young scallops. Bycatch in the Bay Scallop fisheries is largely unknown.
The abundance of Bay Scallops is very low compared to historical levels, due to environmental factors such as harmful algal blooms and loss of their primary seagrass habitat. Management measures include seasonal closures, minimum size limits, daily catch limits, and population enhancement programs, but further measures may be needed to rebuild Bay Scallop populations.