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The problem of bay scallop population decline has become so extensive that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has closed the state to all commercial fishing for bay scallops and has severely restricted recreational harvest. In a joint project with the University of South Florida, scientists at the FWC's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) implemented a program to restore bay scallops throughout much of their natural range in the state. This program entails collecting spawners from each targeted restoration site (Sarasota Bay, Tampa Bay, Tarpon Springs, Homosassa River, and Crystal River), culturing the offspring of those animals in the laboratory, and then planting those offspring at the specific site from which the adults were collected. Cultured scallops are planted in cages at densities up to 100 scallops per cage (much higher than natural densities), and their growth, survival, and reproductive development are monitored throughout the fall spawning season. The primary goal of the restoration program is to increase the number of "recruits" (young scallops coming into the population) within each targeted area, thereby increasing spawner stock for subsequent year classes. A secondary goal of the project is to develop technology for scallop aquaculture in an attempt to provide alternative employment for displaced net fishers.

Visit the Molluscan Fisheries Section for more information.