Habitat characterization and sea scallop resource enhancement study in a proposed habitat research area
Principal investigators: Ricky Alexander, Liese Siemann, Samir Patel, Shea Miller, and Dan Ward
Funding provided by: NOAA/NMFS Atlantic Sea Scallop Research Set-Aside Program
In 1998, Coonamessett Farm managed a Sea Scallop Enhancement and Sustainable Harvesting project that developed and demonstrated the technology to enhance sea-scallop production on a sustainable basis, using the existing New England fishing industry and infrastructure. This project established a pilot sea scallop culture operation and determined factors affecting scallop growth and survival as well as efficient handling methods. An approach was used which matches the constraints and resources of the present industry as well as competing marine interests. The offshore culturing operation was designed for servicing by vessels currently engaged in wild capture. The engineering of large-scale grow-out facilities and the demonstration of efficient handling methods were the core, initial components of the project. Final stage grow-out was later accomplished through the transfer of undersized animals from wild harvesting.
The encompassing goal of this multi-year project is to demonstrate the feasibility of a seeding program to enhance and stabilize scallop recruitment on Georges Bank while documenting the factors that affect seed survival. Scallop seed was harvested from natural seedbeds on Georges Bank and the Nantucket Lightship Area and transplanted in experimental seed beds in locations where scallops had been known to thrive. Spat collectors were also deployed to monitor recruitment dynamics in these locations. The success of the transplanting experiment was evaluated based on scallop survival, growth, and dispersal of scallop seed as well as changes in population density of scallops and predators. Stereo camera stands were deployed during in 2018 to document the first 24 hours of the transplanted scallops.