A NOAA Fisheries scallop survey off the northeastern U.S. coast between North Carolina and Massachusetts shows high numbers of juvenile "recruit" sea scallops and ocean quahogs on Georges Bank tempered with weak numbers for seed scallops in the Mid-Atlantic for 2009. This survey, which included the first successful use of a scallop dredge and high resolution underwater imaging system from the same vessel, also shows the overall biomass for the Mid-Atlantic remains high.
Scientists at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) lab of NOAA Fisheries Service in Woods Hole, Mass., which has conducted the annual survey since 1979, are encouraged by the scallop numbers, the highest seen on Georges Bank since 2000.
Researchers also observed yellowtail flounder, various skate species, and numerous invertebrates including sponges and sea stars. High densities of the invasive tunicate Didemnum were observed in one area on the northern edge of Georges Bank.
"We found very high numbers of scallop recruits, or seed scallops, in the Great South Channel and on the northern edge of Georges Bank," said Dvora Hart of NEFSC, chief sea scallop assessment scientist for the center. "We went to both open and closed areas, and into Canadian waters on Georges Bank working in cooperation with Canadian colleagues. This is very encouraging news as our observed numbers were even higher than last year."
By contrast, recruitment farther south in the Mid-Atlantic Bight, from Virginia to Long Island, was the weakest in 12 years. Nonetheless, biomass or the amount of live scallops in the Mid-Atlantic, where the majority of scallops are managed by a system of rotating closed areas, remained high.
The 2009 survey documented a decline in the scallop biomass in the Elephant
Trunk rotational area, off of New Jersey and Delaware. "This decline is not surprising, since over 40 million pounds of scallop meats, worth over a quarter billion dollars,
|Contact: Shelley Dawicki|
NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service