The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has temporarily modified the 2023 open season for the harvest of bay scallops within the Pasco Zone, extending the 10-day season to 37 days on a trial basis, according to a Pasco County news release.
The recreational bay scallop season for this area opens July 1 and closes Aug. 6, allowing harvest to begin during the weekend in advance of the Fourth of July holiday. These season dates also support a fun recreational opportunity for families as they occur before students return to Pasco County schools for the 2023-2024 school year, the release notes.
“Extending the season will increase the economic benefits from this popular recreational fishery to local communities in the region,” Jessica McCawley, director of the Division of Marine Fisheries Management, said in the release.
“We will continue these efforts by exploring long-term season options for future years via the formal rulemaking process,” McCawley added.
Between 2017 and 2020, FWC took a pilot approach to establish regionally specific bay scallop regulations while also maintaining the sustainability of local scallop populations. As part of this effort, the allowable harvest area for scallops was extended to include Pasco County waters starting in 2018, the release says.
The Pasco Zone for bay scallop management includes all Florida waters south of the Pasco-Hernando county line and north of the Anclote Key Lighthouse (approximately 0.37 miles south of the Pasco-Pinellas county line).
The daily bag limit in this area is 2 gallons of whole bay scallops in the shell or 1 pint of shucked bay scallop meat per person, with no more than a total of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops in the shell or 1/2 gallon (4 pints) shucked bay scallop meat per vessel, the release says.
Throughout the season and region-wide, vessel limits do not allow an individual to exceed their personal bag limit.
It is important to note that scallops may be collected by hand or with a landing or dip net, and no commercial harvest allowed for bay scallops in Florida.
For information on bay scallop regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Marine and click on “Recreational Regulations” and “Bay Scallops” under the “Crabs, Lobster and other Shellfish” tab.
Published April 26, 2023