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Bay Scallop FAQ

Bay scallops are bivalve molluscs that occur on Florida's west coast, in localized populations from Florida Bay, in Monroe and Dade counties, to St. Andrew Bay near Panama City. They are bottom dwellers living in 4-8 feet of water. They used to be harvested and sold commercially; now, only recreational anglers can take them during harvest season.

To view current state of Florida regulations on harvesting bay scallops, view the article on bay scallop regulations.

"Shellfish" is a generic term used to describe a large number of marine animals-not all of which are affected the same way by red tide. Shellfish, like the bivalve molluscs including mussels, clams, and oysters, should not be eaten if they have been removed from waters containing red tide. As filter feeders, these animals remove large amounts of red tide cells from the water and concentrate the toxin-producing algae in their gut. Other shellfish seafood, such as crabs, shrimp, and lobster, can be eaten because they do not filter-feed and will not retain the toxin. Scallops can be eaten if only the scallop's muscle is eaten, as is normally the case. Scallop stew, which uses the whole animal, should not be eaten.

Since 2019, FWC is no longer publishing pre-season bay scallop counts. Bay scallop populations appear to fluctuate on broad 5–7-year cycles. Variability in the population is dependent on both natural conditions (such as red-tides, floods, droughts, hurricanes) as well as human dimensions (such as fishing effort). These wide swings in the population make predicting future conditions based on pre-season counts difficult.