The 2020 recreational scalloping season is in full swing! Here are some tips and tricks to participate safely.
Make a safety plan! Before you leave the dock, make sure someone on land knows where you are going. Show everyone on board the vessel where the safety equipment is, including the fresh drinking water and first aid kit. Don’t forget to inspect your flares and fire extinguisher to ensure it hasn’t expired.
Start your day at the farthest site from the launch point. Afternoon thunderstorms are common in Florida during the summer months. Moving closer towards your launch point as the day progresses makes for a shorter run if a storm blows in.
Have an observer onboard while others are in the water. Unfortunately, the vessel’s anchor does not always keep its hold. It is no fun if your vessel unknowingly floats away. Plus, the observer can assist a swimmer in need.
Swim with a buddy. If you get tired or injured, they will be there to help!
Check the tides. When the tides change, currents can become strong making it difficult for swimmers.
Lower your Divers Down Device before relocating. The Divers Down Device is to let others know that there are snorkelers and divers in the water. Florida’s law requires that this device be lowered immediately after everyone is out of the water.
Only harvest scallops larger than 1.5 inches. Bay scallops typically live for one year in Florida. Returning the smaller ones, alive, gives them a chance to reproduce in the fall and contribute to next year’s scallop population.
Drain your cooler. To reduce the chance of contamination, it is important to hang the scallops you plan to harvest in a bag alongside your vessel or store in a cooler full of ice. If you decide to place the scallops on ice, be sure they are above the meltwater. Place a damp towel between the scallops and ice and drain the meltwater from your cooler throughout your trip.
Be mindful where you dump scallop remains. Improperly discarded shells and contents can fill in channels, degrade water quality, and injure people and wildlife. Instead, dispose of the shells in a trash can, use them in place of mulch around trees and in flower beds, or make decorations out of them.
Wash your hands and utensils. Cleaning scallops can be a messy job! Be sure to wash your hands and tools before, during, and after shucking. Rinse scallop meat with cool water to remove any missed innards and sand.
Enjoy! Remember, consuming raw and undercooked seafood can increase your chances of a foodborne illness. Use caution by cooking the scallop meat before serving and enjoy your meal!
You can also view our 2020 Recreational Scalloping webinars here:
Hernando, Citrus, and Levy Counties
For more information on bay scallops:
Scalloping Best Practices
How to Clean a Scallop Video
Florida Sea Grant Scalloping Website
Florida Fish and Wildlife Bay Scallop Information