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The U.S Scallop Fishery

Scallop Fishery
Article by:
Robert Repetto - Issues in Science and Technology

Reviewed by:
On August 30, 2017
Last modified:August 30, 2017


12 Questions Answered About New Approach to Scallop Fishery

Rebuilding Industry Profits in Addition to Fishing Stocks Plus Scallop Fishery

Commercial fisheries in the USA suffer from overfishing or ineffective harvesting or both. Because of this, hundreds of millions of dollars in earnings is lost into the fishing industry, fishing communities, and the economy. The excessive fishing effort has resulted in greater rates of bycatch mortality of seabirds fish, and marine mammals, and in more damage than to benthic organisms from dredges, trawls, and other fishing equipment.

These losses underscore the failure of the nation sustainably or efficiently. The issues have been addressed through a selection of controls over the entry, effort, equipment, fishing seasons and locations, size, and grab. Nevertheless, the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 highlighted the need to stop overfishing and to rebuild stocks. In the direction councils of fisheries that are particular, there’s sometimes bitter debate about the best way to accomplish this turnaround.

Especially contentious are management regimes depending on the allocation of rights to parts of the Total Allowable Catch (TAG) to qualified participants in a fishery: so-called rights-based fishing management methods. Best known among rights-based regimes are Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) systems, where individual license holders in a fishery are delegated fractions of the Total Allowable Catch TAG embraced by the fishery managers, and such quotas are transferable among permit holders for sale or lease.

Opinion on the merits of management regimes is divided. Within a fishery, some operators might favour shifting into a system, and workers strongly oppose such a move. Among specialists, economists favour the adoption of systems due to their promise of greater efficiency and conservation incentives, but social scientists decry the disruption of fishing communities by market processes and the attrition of fisheries occupations and livelihoods. These divisions are reflected in the political arena.

Quota system from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)

The U.S. Senate, responding to constituent concerns in certain fishing conditions, used the 1996 Sustainable Fisheries Act to impose a moratorium on the growth of Individual Transferable Quota systems by any fisheries management council and the approval of any Individual Transferable Quota system from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). A National Research Council committee report, Sharing is no more than a balanced ration of cons and pros, although the committee did recommend that Congress rescind its moratorium. That recommendation hasn’t yet been adopted, and the moratorium has been extended.

Scallop Fishery
Commercial Scallop Fishing

Just four U.S. marine fisheries operate under such regimes: the Atlantic bluefin tuna purse seine fishery, the mid-Atlantic surf clam and ocean quahog fishery, the Alaskan halibut and sablefish fishery, as well as the South Atlantic wreckfish fishery. There are too few years of data from which to draw firm conclusions concerning the consequences. However, there have been significant advantages. Capacity was reduced, fishing seasons are extended, fleet usage has improved, and fishermen’s incomes have risen in all but the wreckfish fishery, where catch and effort have diminished. Quota holders have adjusted their operations to improve the value of their harvest, by targeting prey, or by providing catch year round, by way of the instance.

However, there have been significant advantages. Capacity was reduced, fishing seasons are extended, fleet usage has improved, and fishermen’s incomes have risen in all but the wreckfish fishery, where catch and effort have diminished. Quota holders have adjusted their operations to improve the value of their harvest, by targeting prey, or by providing catch year round, by way of the instance.

Another fishing nations use nearly all their fisheries to be managed by regimes. Others, such as Australia and Canada, use schemes. A recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organization finds that systems have generated fiscal viability and incomes, greater stability, improved product quality, reduced bycatch, and a payment mechanism. The prices are decreased employment and enforcement costs monitoring, and some degree of immersion as excess capacity is eliminated; and in particular, fisheries, as operators try to maximise their paychecks worth.

Individual Transferable Quota

Experience with management suggests that it promotes harvesting by promising quota holders of a share of any increase. Such systems also improve efficiency by enabling flexibility in the time and manner of harvesting their share to quota holders or increase product value. Studies also have found that Individual Transferable Quota stimulates progress by increasing the returns to permit holders from investments in research or improved fishing technology.

Partly because controversies have blocked adoption of rights-based systems in America and partially because there’s never been an evaluation of real knowledge in all Individual Transferable Quota systems globally using up-to-date data and a suitable, comparable assessment methodology, debate continues in a thoughtful but heated manner about the potential positive and negative ramifications of embracing Individual Transferable Quota systems. This lack of information makes it imperative to study all experience that sheds light on the consequences of adopting fishing regimes.

Luckily, a rare naturally occurring experiment in the U.S. and Canadian Atlantic sea scallop fisheries provides this opportunity. Whereas the United States continued to manage its scallop fishery using a mixture of effort controls and minimal harvest-size fifteen years ago, a system was adopted by Canada in its sea scallop fishery. A comparison of the development of the scallop fishery and the scallop resource in Canada and the USA illuminates the consequences of the two approaches to management.

The Atlantic sea scallop fishery is suitable to such a contrast. The fishery has been among the top 10 in the United States. Juvenile scallops settle to the bottom, after dispersing on ocean currents for about a month at the stage. If they attack bottom conditions that are positive, they remain sedentary while growing. Scallops quadruple in size, so scallops in the age bring benefits as soon as they are recruited to the fishery at about age three.

Scallop Fishery

These years are also increased over by spawning potential: Scallops contribute roughly 85 percent to each year fecundity, which may allow stocks to rebound quickly when fishing pressure is reduced. A proportion of the scallop harvest in both states is captured in dredges. The fishery is negligible. Both Canada and the United States draw the majority of their products across which the International Court of Justice drew a boundary line in 1984, the Hague Line, separating the fishing grounds of both nations.

Scallop Fishery
Scallop Fishery Areas

The U.S. and Canadian scallop fisheries were contrasted by the selection of biological and economic information about everyone for periods before and after the Canadians embraced rights-based fishing in 1986. The data underlying tables and the figures here are derived from data provided by the Quota system from the National Marine Fisheries Service, the New England Fisheries Science Center, the New England Fisheries Management Council, and the Canadian Department of Oceans and Fisheries. This information was improved by interviews carried out with fishing captains, boat owners, fisheries scientists and managers, and consultants and activists involved in both nations with the scallop fisheries.

U.S. Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery

The U.S. Atlantic sea scallop fishery extends from the Gulf of Maine into the mid-Atlantic, and the Quota system from the National Marine Fisheries Service manages all but the Gulf of Maine stocks as one unit. From 1982 through 1993, about the only management tool set up was a typical “meat count” restriction, which prescribed the highest amount of scallop “meats” in a pound of harvested and shucked scallops. Entry to the scallop fishery remained open.

This approach was insufficient to prevent growth or recruitment overfishing. (Growth overfishing means harvesting the scallops too young and too little, sacrificing high rates of possible expansion. Recruitment overfishing means collecting them to such an extent that shares are reduced well below maximum biological or economic yield because the reproductive capacity is diminished.) More than 350 license holders stayed, although entry was introduced via a moratorium on the issuance of licenses in March 1994. These permits were estimated to transcend the capacity consistent with inventory rebuilding by about 33 percent.

Due to capacity that is extreme, Additional measures to control fishing effort were adopted. The days at sea have been scheduled to fall in 2000, which is enough to permit a boat to recover its costs under conditions from 200 in the year to 120. A team size of seven was embraced–an important restriction because scallops at sea are quite labour intensive. Minimum diameters were prescribed to allow scallops to escape, and limitations were retained. These principles assembled a system of effort controls.

In another, December 1994 Event for scallop fishermen occurred: Three regions of George’s Bank were closed to all fishing vessels capable of withstanding groundfish or cod. Dredges were included cutting the fishery off from an estimated five million pounds of annual crop and shifting fishing effort to the area and areas. (Two small regions in the mid-Atlantic area were then closed to shield juvenile scallops.)

The U.S. scallop fishery has Also been affected by provisions in the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996, which required management to develop strategies to eliminate overfishing and restore stocks. Because scallop stocks have been estimated to be these provisions mandated a decrease in fishing effort. The plan provided that days at sea could collapse from 120 over three years to as few as 51.

In response Fund (FSF), a business group formed to lobby for access to scallops in the closed areas, a relief measure that was opposed by some groundfish pursuits, lobstermen, and environmentalists. Sample studies found that stocks in the sectors that were closed had increased following four decades of respite. With this evidence, permission was secured by the direct lobbying of the government for the harvesting of scallops. Yields of scallops were found.

In the next year harvesting in all three regions of George’s Bank has been allowed. This rebuilding of the stock, together with recruitment years, revived the fortunes of the business and made it unnecessary to reduce to fewer than 120 days annually at sea. Today, all of the effort controls on U.S. scallop fishermen stay, and additional limitations on a number of days that they can fish in the closed areas in addition to catching limits on every allowable excursion.

Scallop Fishery Size Limitation

Canada, which harvests a much Scallop area, introduced entry as far back as 1973. The only management tool was a typical size limitation. During the following decade of aggressive fishing using the U.S. fleet, stocks were depleted, incomes were decreased, and lots of Canadian owner-operators voluntarily joined in fishing businesses. This resulted in consolidation so that by 1984 only a dozen companies were fishing for scallops, many of them operating ships and holding licenses.

In 1984, following the adjudication of the Hague Line, the Canadian offshore scallop fishery started to develop a venture allocation (EA) system. In an EA system, parts of the TAC are given not to vessels but to businesses, which can harvest their quota as they think. The government supported this endeavour, requiring responsibility for setting business advice on the TAC but insisting that the quota allocation is worked out for themselves by the permit holders. After a year of bargaining, allocations were awarded to nine ventures. In 1986, to support this system, the government demarcating fishing borders between the two fleets.

The two nations adopted Management regimes for their scallop fisheries that are similar for many reasons. The fishery had undergone substantial consolidation and was smaller. There were fewer than 12 companies involved in the discussions over the statute. All of these ventures were located in Nova Scotia, where the fishing community is close-knit and small. By comparison, the U.S. fishery comprised over 350 licensees and 200 active vessels operating from ports spread from Virginia to Maine.

Although it was suggested as an alternative from the 1992 National ITQ Study, the ITQ alternative was rejected early in the development of Amendment 4 that negotiating allocations would take. There were fears that an ITQ system could lead to concentration. Atlantic Canada had already begun moving in 1982 in the direction of fishing, with a venture allocation system for groundfish. This approach was opposed in most New England fisheries, where the tradition of open access to fishing grounds is dominant. In New England, size and energy constraints were preferable to limitations on who could.

Scallop Fishery
Scallop Fishery Season

The results

That is revealed by interviews in Canada A consensus has emerged one of quota holders, the employees’ union Managers in favour of a conservative catch limit. In recent, The TAC was set concerning scientists years’ Recommendations to be able to stabilise the harvest recruitment. The industry-financed has fostered this understanding Government research program, which samples the abundance of scallops in Year classes to present a range of estimates to the industry Relating to the TAC of this year into the shift in biomass. Faced With these options, the industry has opted for entire Quotas, realising that each quota holder Advantages will proportionately capture them through catch limits in years of conservation.

Because of this, the fishery has succeeded in rebuilding the stock from the levels which were attained during the period of fishing in the early 1980s. It has managed to smooth out fluctuations in the biomass of scallops in annual variations in the inventory of recruits’ face.

Unless seen to be required in the United States have been opposed. The need drove the campaign controls to decrease fishing mortality to forestall stock declines that were extreme. Those embodied in 1998 responded to eliminate overfishing and to rebuild stocks by cutting effort by 50 to 75 48, to the level that would support the maximum sustainable yield.

As a consequence of such immunity, resource abundance from the U.S. fishery has fluctuated more widely in response to varying recruiting, and a larger portion of the total supply is composed of new three-year-old recruits due to heavy fishing manipulation of larger, older scallops.

Success in Maintaining Scallop Stocks

Due to its success in maintaining scallop stocks, the fishery has continued harvest levels with fishing pressure. The rate for scallops aged 4 to 7 decades, the age group targeted at the fishery, has dropped at the time from about 40 percent. The rate for scallops has fallen to zero. Industry participants state that it makes no sense since the rates of return on a one- or two-year conservation investment are significant.

Do scallops redouble and double over that interval in size, but the cost per pound rises for scallops. Hence, the sector has supplemented the official average meat count limitation with a voluntary program restricting some tiny scallops (beef number 50 or over) which may be included in the average. Although assess industry monitors compliance, there isn’t any incentive for license holders to violate it as they reap the returns.

In America, the exploitation rates have been greater. Exploitation rates for scallops rose throughout the period peaking above 80 percent in 1993. The respite of the regions that were closed gave some opportunity to reconstruct in years to the inventory. Exploitation pressures also have been substantial on scallops despite the losses that are significant this imposes.

When campaign expanded during the 1990s in response to one or two years 29, exploitation rates have exceeded 20 percent and climbed beyond 50 percent. Because there isn’t any assurance in the aggressive U.S. fishery that cyclists acting to conserve modest scallops will have the ability to reap the following rewards themselves, the fleet hasn’t exempted these undersized scallops in the harvest.

There are still indicators of their success, although there isn’t any reliable data on fishermen’s incomes. The first is capacity utilisation. A fishing boat represents. Substantial excess capacity was already present at the U.S. fleet when permit constraints were initiated in 1994, allowing the number of active vessels to expand and contract in response to inventory fluctuations.

There was a gradual and steady decrease in the fleet’s size. License holders started replacing their wooden ships with fewer after the EA system was introduced. The stability reduced permit holders’ investment risk and allowed them to fund these investments. Some vessels in the fishery have dropped from 67 to 28. The method persists. Two companies are investing in replacement vessels with freezing plants suspend the scallops immediately and to be able to make longer trips enhancing product quality.

Trends in some days spent at sea are much like those in many vessels. In America, the effort has risen and fallen in response to inventory and recruitment fluctuations. There was a decrease in some days reflecting the abundance of scallops the catching power of vessels, and the increase in catch per tow. Consequently, a measure of capacity utilisation, some sea days per boat that is active, has been higher than in America. Due to the flexibility afforded to their ability and permit holders to plan for changes in capacity, the fishery has managed to use its capital efficiently. In America, restrictions on days at sea have impinged on those operators that would have fished their vessels intensively.

The second indicator of profitability is that the catch every day at sea. Costs for fuel, food, ice, and team increase linearly with some days. As a result, the indicator of the operating margin of a vessel is its catch per sea day. Since the EA system was adopted in Canada, find daily at sea has risen fourfold. Because scallop abundance is higher and the survey program has generated an understanding of scallop concentrations that were great effort is wasted in harvesting the TAC. Moreover, fishing has targeted scallops that were larger, making a more valuable and more significant yield per tow.

From the U.S. fishery, catch per sea day dropped significantly over the same period due to the excessive effort, lower prosperity, greater reliance on immature scallops, and not as comprehensive understanding of resource conditions. As a consequence of these trends, the fleet was preferred by catch per sea day in 1998 by a margin, even though when the regimes diverged in 1986 the gap was only about 70 percent. The harvesting of large scallops from the U.S. closed place in 1999 helped just marginally to decrease this difference. The trend is shown by an index of earnings per sea day. It is apparent that the Canadian fleet has prospered and that before the recent introduction of the closed areas, the U.S. fleet hasn’t.

Striking as these comparisons may be, the gaps in innovation in both fisheries are even more dramatic. The industry has recognised the value of investments in research. License holders jointly and willingly finance the government’s research program by offering a fully equipped research vessel and crew to take sample surveys, allowing researchers to take samples on a much finer sampling grid and causing a more sophisticated mapping of scallop concentrations by age and size. Additionally, data is contributed by scallop vessels from their boat logs catch per Global Positioning System information and tow facilitating comprehension that is better of prosperity and scallop locations.

In America, the government-funded research program lacks the tools to sample the much larger U.S. scallop area in the same detail. The market response hasn’t been to fund government research, as in Canada, but to initiate a sampling program that is parallel to track scallop abundance in the areas that are closed.

Harvesting Scallops

Recently, the industry has embarked on a new program costing a few million dollars to map its scallop grounds’ base. This technique can differentiate one of the conditions that are bottom pinpointing the patches. Confirmation of those maps with tows has verified that this mapping may enable vessels to harvest scallops with effort. Industry informants predict that they’ll have the ability to harvest their quotas. Not only can the web rent of the fishery raise it will reduce equipment conflicts with fisheries bycatch of groundfish, and harm to organisms. All three side effects are of great benefit to fisheries.

Equity and Governance Problems

Both the U.S. and Canadian fisheries have traditionally worked on the “lay” system, which divides the earnings from every excursion among the team, captain, and owner based on pre-determined proportions, after subtracting certain operating expenses. As an instance, in Canada, 60 percent of earnings are divided between crew and captain and the ship is gone to by 40 percent. Because of this, all parties remaining after its consolidation in the fishery have contributed in its rents. The government increased permit fees in January 1996 from a minimal sum to $547.50 per ton of quota, thereby recapturing some resource rents to the public sector also.

There’s been a reduction of employment amounting to approximately 70 jobs each year over the past 13 years although survivors from the fishery have done well. From scallop fishing, which enjoyed a recruiting blossom, many discovered berths in the first years. Recently, the oil and gas industry in the service sector and Nova Scotia have absorbed these workers with very little change in unemployment.

The union supports the EA system over a return to fishing, favouring remunerative jobs that are steady over a bigger insecure or part-time workforce. The union has negotiated complete staffing of teams, which contain 17 employees in Canada (as compared with 7 in America) and preference for the homeless team in filling onshore or replacement team jobs.

One fear expressed by U.S. Fisherman about the effects of adopting a regime is that larger concerns will force out fishermen. Although depart from a fishery would be voluntary, the fear is that fishermen would have to sell out, and wouldn’t have the ability to compete due to economies of scale or financial limitations. The experience of Canada provides some evidence about the process of consolidation. From nine to seven, some quota holders have dropped within a period.

Three medium-to-large quota holders offered to Clearwater Fine Foods Ltd., which is currently the largest licensee, holding slightly under a third of the whole allowance. LaHave Seafoods, the entrant, is the licensee, having purchased a portion of the quota. The remaining 65 percent of the quota remains in the hands, such as the shares held by two of the quota holders that are tiniest. There’s very little evidence in this record that there ends a regime in monopolisation of the fishery or that the r players happen to be at a competitive disadvantage.

Another issue that is important is a Regime’s influence on the achievement of efforts that are co-management and the practice of governance. On this score, the record is superior. The industry supports its research programs and government. Operators and owners speak about the scientists’ proficiency and have accepted their recommendations. The industry bears the costs of enforcement and monitoring of the EA regime and on harvesting scallops. Interviews reveal that fishermen believe the system has allowed them to concentrate on maximising the value of the quotas through efficiencies and product quality and has freed them.

New England Fisheries Management Council

The comparison with the U.S. fishery is evident. The industry created its lobbying organisation to contest the conclusions of the New England Fisheries Management Council in preserving area closures, and the NMFS. The FSF has hired its own Washington attorney and a lobbyist (a former congressman) to lobby Congress and the executive branch right. It has hired its scientific consultants to contest the findings of government scientists, if needed, and is currently running its abundance sampling. Fishermen in their agents and the business are critical of scientists and government fisheries managers and one another.

All informants whine about discussions and the debates about handling changes. The fishermen complained that envy motivated fishermen and used the process to attempt and hold others back. Adding further to the battle, environmental groups that had won a spot on the fisheries management council, having failed to stop the board’s decision to resume limited scallop fishing in the closed regions of George’s Bank, have initiated a lawsuit to block the opening. The co-management regime at the U.S. scallop fishery is conflicted, costly, and ineffective.

Charting the future

Neither industry nor Government nor unions wants to replace the EA system. The industry anticipates that its investment in research will raise profitability and efficiency with a TAC that is stable, even in the next few years. The industry’s investment in freezer vessels will improve the value of the catch and product quality by allowing scallops to suspend and market the scallops.

The prognosis for the U.S. Fishery is interesting although certain. The experiments with areas have demonstrated scallop stocks may increase when fishing pressure is relaxed. They also have raised suspicions that the biomass of scallops in the areas could cause recent years’ recruitment classes. This would imply that the fishery was subject to recruitment overfishing in addition to growth overfishing.

Developments in the areas have created support in the NMFS and at the FSF for embracing a system of harvesting. Harvesting would eliminate growth overfishing by providing scallops in regions a chance. Yields could improve but wouldn’t resolve the issue of effort. Harvesting would raise management challenges regarding adjusting them on fluctuating scallop concentrations with data and enforcing the closures.

Adopting a harvesting Regime would cause a catch quota system. Already, the areas may be taken to be limits on some trips each boat and catch limits per excursion amount to vessel quotas for harvests from the areas. These are formalised in a harvesting program. Then it may be a matter of time before harvesting of transfers and quotas of allowances’ benefits are accomplished. It appears entirely possible that over the next several years, the U.S. scallop fishery will proceed and eventually adopt a rights-based regime, placing itself in a position to realise a number of the financial advantages that the Canadian industry has enjoyed for the last decade.

There’s been discussion In America of the experience, relevant though it’s, or of the experience of other countries in using approaches. There’s an urgent need for a comprehensive evaluation of the outcomes of these procedures around the world, using sufficient assessment methodologies and up-to-date information, to be able to provide U.S. fishermen and policymakers with an adequate basis for choice.

U.S. Scallop Fishery

If the U.S. scallop fishery were While an equivalent percentage was reducing its prices since its earnings could be increased by at least 50 percent, its management, A company would be fired. No business manager could endure with this amount of inefficiency.

Experience has shown that moving Controls into a rights-based approach usually leads to sustainability and prosperity to the fishery from the malfunctioning effort. Safeguards can be built into systems. By way of example, concentration can be forestalled by limitations on quota accumulation.

Enforcement and vigorous monitoring together with penalties can discourage cheating. If needed to prevent high grading size constraints can be used. The concerns raised concerning the pitfalls of systems may be addressed in such ways as opposed to by an outright ban on the strategy. As opposed to needing fisheries to adhere to management systems which have not worked before, fisheries that wish to do this to experiment with promising approaches should be encouraged by Congress. The fruits of expertise allay and will solve the doubts.

Robert Repetto (, a visiting professor at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, wrote this article and researched Fellow in Marine Conservation in the Marine Policy Center Oceanographic Institute.

12 Questions Answered About New Approach to Scallop Fishery