US scallop fishery granted higher quota in 2024, but market remains hard to predict

A survey showcasing a high number of baby scallops.

The New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) officially granted a quota increase and established new rules for the upcoming 2024 scallop fishing season in the Northeast U.S. 

The fishery – one of the most valuable in the U.S. – has experienced decreasing quotas for the past four years after a historically high harvest in 2019 saw the fishery land over 60 million pounds. This year, the council predicts the fishery will catch roughly 27.4 million pounds in the upcoming fishing season, with roughly 24.2 million pounds of that coming from the limited access component of the fishery.

That total – established through Framework Adjustment 38, which NOAA Fisheries still needs to review and implement –  is a mild increase over the 25 million pounds predicted for the 2023 scallop fishing year.

While the increase in catch predictions is relatively small year over year, the surveys and closures of certain regions that have resulted in that mild increase bode well for the long-term success of the fishery.

For example, the Nantucket Lightship fishing region will be closed in 2024 – as it had a “potentially strong recruitment event” during the 2023 season – but the scallops were too small to be included in biomass estimates for 2023.

“The growth potential for these juveniles is high should they survive over the next several years,” Framework 38 said. “Closing the Nantucket Lightship region to scallop fishing is intended to support the growth of this cohort of scallops in the absence of fishing pressure.”

Bristol Seafood President and CEO Peter Handy told SeafoodSource the biomass trending positive is ...

Photo courtesy of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science

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