Small-boat Scallop Success
Within the New England scallop fishery, there are two fleets: the small boats and the big boats. Small boats depend on a stable, reliable source of scallops close to home. Meanwhile, the large boats fish rotationally, moving to wherever scallop stocks are healthiest and fishing those stocks to depletion before letting those stocks recover by moving on to another fishing area. To the big boats, it doesn’t matter where those fishing areas are because their boats allows them to travel as far as they need to in order to catch their scallops.
When the healthy scallop stocks are close to shore, as they were this year, large boats come in and fish those stocks down. This makes it hard for our small-boat fishermen to continue to fish close to the Cape and, in some cases, forces them to move their fishing down to New Jersey, where scallops are more abundant. Our scallop fleet has been working hard to fix this issue since mid-2014. They recognize that it’s a big problem that can only be resolved if they work with the big boat fishermen, rather than against them, and collaborate around the common goal of a sustainable fishery.
To that end, in the weeks leading up to the November New England Fishery Management Council meeting, our scallopers worked tirelessly to get the Council to support their efforts, reaching out to individual Council members and collecting over 100 supporting signatures from other fishermen and fishing-dependent businesses. And, at the November New England Fishery Management Council meeting, they got what they’d asked for—and then some. The Council voted unanimously to organize a workshop and provide a safe, neutral forum for the two fishing fleets to meet and come up with a solution. Council members from all across New England were vocal in their overwhelming support of a ‘group of small boat fishermen that deserve better,’ comparing the situation to ‘David and Goliath’ and saying, ‘at some point…you’ve got to give a starving dog a bone.’
This is an important first step in what’s sure to be a long journey to securing a future for our small-boat scallop fleet. But with the determination of our fishermen backed by the oversight of the Council, make no mistake, we will secure it.
Want to learn more about our scallop fleet? Click here.
Learn about harvesting scallops directly from one of our fleet, Captain Bob Keese, F/V Beggar's Banquet. Click here.