Science & Management

The New England Fishery Management Council manages Atlantic sea scallops in cooperation with the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council under the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fisheries Management Plan (FMP), which was implemented in 1982 to restore and stabilize adult scallop stocks. The scallop FMP has evolved since, incorporating new management techniques as scientists learn more about the fishery. In 1994, a limited access program was implemented for scallop vessels. It included a moratorium on new scallop permits, effort reduction, gear restrictions, and limits on crew size. A portion of the fishery was left as an open access fishery to allow a small scale directed scallop fishery and to allow vessels to retain a small amount of scallops as incidental catch in other fisheries.

The U.S. and Canadian Atlantic sea scallop fishery is considered a management success story. The biomass and landings of U.S. sea scallops has increased dramatically in the last 25 years. In 2019, the Atlantic sea scallop biomass was estimated to be approximately 160,000 metric tons of meat, more than 22% above the biomass needed for maximum sustainable yield (125,000 metric tons of meat).