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Bay Scallop Season and Abundance Survey

2019 Annual Abundance Survey

Each summer, biologists assess bay scallop populations along the Gulf coast of Florida, located in open and closed recreational harvest areas. Surveys are usually initiated in June and completed in July. Scientists look at long-term trends in the abundance of scallops in both the open and closed areas and present those findings to the Division of Marine Fisheries Management.

Open Harvest Area

There are eight counties that are surveyed within the open harvest area: Gulf, Franklin, Wakulla, Taylor, Dixie, Citrus, Hernando and Pasco. The graph below illustrates the average number of scallops observed per 200 square meters in those counties since 2012 and how that number relates to the abundance categories. Scallop population abundance is highly variable because scallops live for one year and scallops are sensitive to changes in water quality, like salinity. Abrupt changes in scallop population abundance may occur after major environmental events such as an El Niño, hurricanes or tropical storms.

Graph showing scallop counts over time. This information is also found in the table below this image.
Year Gulf Franklin Wakulla Taylor Dixie Citrus Hernando Pasco
2012 3.6 4.2 34.9 7.9 11.3 11.3 13.9 8.9
2013 7.7 8.3 1.4 15.4 8.0 19.8 14.6 14.6
2014 7.2 n/a 0.3 9.4 2.2 9.4 13.4 9.3
2015 3.9 55.8 14.0 21.2 13.1 20.4 10.1 13.9
2016 0.8 0.1 13.6 60.7 66.3 20.2 15.5 11.2
2017 2.5 7.4 6.4 22.2 18.6 13.0 9.5 13.2
2018 8.1 0.1 3.8 19.5 20.3 21.1 3.5 6.1
2019 66.1 1.0 0.9 12.0 3.2 4.3 2.0 6.4
Average All Time 12.5 11.0 9.4 21.0 17.9 15.0 10.3 10.4

Closed Harvest Area

There are five study sites in the areas closed to scallop harvest: Pensacola Bay (Santa Rosa & Escambia Counties), St. Andrew Bay (Bay County), Anclote (Pasco and Pinellas), Tampa Bay (Pinellas, Hillsborough and Manatee) and Pine Island Sound (Lee). While there has been an increase in the number of scallops observed in the closed areas during the last 10 years, likely due to a combination of management (prohibited harvest) and restoration efforts, those scallop populations continue to be extremely sensitive to localized conditions.

diver down flag

Harvest regulations

Harvest periods, harvest locations and fishing regulations are subject to change. Before collecting bay scallops, recreational harvesters should review current rules and regulations.

Remember: Scuba divers and snorkelers are required to carry and display a divers-down flag.

Planning on going scalloping this bay scallop season? Help biologists learn more about how many bay scallops live along Florida's Gulf coast by submitting your bay scallop harvest data through our Web survey. View "Bay Scallop Web Survey Taps Recreational Harvesters" for more information.