As part of CFF's marine research surveys, our researchers work with fisherman to identify issues affecting seafood quality including marine disease. Currently we collect data and samples to investigate issues that affect scallop meat quality. If you are a scalloper and have noticed meat quality issues in your scallop catch please take the time to fill out our observation form and send in a sample for analysis.


Scallop meat is normally firm and creamy-white. However, when scallop diseases cause poor quality meat, fishermen have to discard them, which leads to low meat yield and subsequent economic losses for the fishery.

Gray meat is a condition where the meat of the scallop is dark and stringy. It occurs in scallops throughout the New England and the mid-Atlantic coast, and has occasionally been detected in our surveys. Until recently, it was believed that this condition was caused by a highly virulent parasite, and once scallops showed clinical signs of gray meat disease (e.g., gray color, stringy adductor muscle), they would eventually die (Levesque et al. 2016). However, recent results suggest another mechanism may be at work.
Lab work has shown that the parasite is present in healthy meats as well as gr...
scallop healthy half shell.JPG
CFF's seasonal bycatch survey has detected scallops with orange nodules in the muscle, or meat, of the scallop. These nodules are caused by a type of bacteria called Mycobacteria spp., similar to ones that cause tuberculosis and leprosy in humans. In scallops, the bacteria causes orange nodules and inflammation. These effects make the scallops unsaleable and thus affect the fishery. CFF is continuing to track the occasional presence of this disease on Georges Bank.

CFF's research surveys catch more than just scallops. As part of our ongoing research, we are also investigating disease in commercially important yellowtail flounder and American lobster. As with scallop diseases, there is currently a significant lack of evidence about the real impact of these three different diseases on scallops and yellowtail flounder on Georges Bank. The regular seasonal collection of scallop and fish tissue samples during the bycatch project has been invaluable for studying these potentially devastating diseases.

Ichthyophonus irregularis in Yellowtail flounder on Georges Bank
Yellowtail flounder have been observed with Ichthyophonus sp., a parasite which has been identified as a cause of disease in over a hundred species of marine, fresh, and brackish teleost fish, as well as marine copepods and crustaceans. This parasite is lethal or debilitating in many fish species (Huntsberger et al. 2017). This parasite causes firm, off-white cysts or deposit on certain membranes and organs, including the liver, kidneys, and heart. This infection leads to inflammation, organ degradation, and death.  
The American lobster fishery is an important and iconic industry here in New England. CFF, in cooperation with the Atlantic Offshore Lobster Association, has been tagging and measuring American lobsters to more fully understand their distribution and health. As part of this research, CFF scientists measure and weigh every lobster caught during research trips and examine them for damage and disease. Healthy lobsters are then tagged and released back into the ocean.
Lobster Disease 06.2018.JPG


All available CFF published studies and final reports can also be found on our  Literature page.