News Feature

Blue Hill
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, February 9, 2017 and The Weekly Packet, February 9, 2017
DMR closes Lower Blue Hill Bay, Jericho Bay to scallop draggers
Only divers allowed

by Anne Berleant

The Maine Department of Marine Resources enacted an emergency rule in response to high numbers of sub-legal scallops and a higher-than-expected scallop harvest, closing Lower Blue Hill Bay, Jericho Bay, North Haven, Inner Cranberry Isles Area and Upper Damariscotta River to scalloping except by diving effective February 5, according to a DMR emergency ruling.

Mid Penobscot Bay is now limited to draggers on Mondays and Tuesdays, only.

“Unrestricted harvest during the remainder of the 2016-2017 fishing season in these specific areas may damage sub-legal scallops that could be caught during subsequent fishing seasons, as well as reducing broodstock essential to a recovery,” the press release states.

The end-date for scallop draggers in the affected areas was originally March 28.

The closure is based on direct input from Marine Patrol and independent industry participants as well as observations made through the department’s monitoring programs, which has shown that “the level of fishing effort in these areas during the fishing season has exceeded the 30 percent removal target that ensures the fishery continues to rebuild,” according to the emergency rule.

The scallop season for divers in Lower Blue Hill Bay, Jericho Bay, Mid Penobscot Bay and East Isle au Haut Bay ends April 14.