ELLSWORTH, Maine — The daily limit for harvesting scallops along much of the coast has gone back up to 20 pounds, but further restrictions on fishing days and territory have gone into effect in Cobscook Bay, according to state officials.
Last week, officials with the Maine Department of Marine Resources indicated they had decided to close East and South bays, which are parts of larger Cobscook Bay, to scallop harvesting. With the previous closure of Dennys and Whiting bays, the new closures mean that all of Cobscook Bay west of a line between Shackford Head in Eastport and Comstock Point on Seward Neck are closed to scalloping.
Scallop diving and dragging still are allowed east of that line to the Canadian border, and on the American side of Passamaquoddy Bay and the St. Croix River.
Trisha DeGraaf, DMR resource management coordinator, said Tuesday that state fishery officials knew, and told fishermen last fall, that the high prevalence of undersized scallops in Cobscook Bay would result in most if not all of Cobscook Bay being shut down before the scheduled end of the season on March 20.
DeGraaf said that in the parts of Cobscook Bay and the St. Croix River that remain open, the number of fishing days allowed per week has been reduced from four to two. Scallop harvesting on Sundays and Mondays no longer is permitted, but continues to be allowed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The daily harvest limit in those areas remains 10 gallons, which is approximately 90 pounds.
DMR also advised that the daily harvest limit along the rest of the coast reverted to 20 pounds on March 8. The limit had been set at 15 pounds by an emergency regulation issued on Dec. 8, but emergency regulations expire after 90 days and cannot be extended, according to DeGraaf.
DeGraaf added that the next meeting of DMR's Scallop Advisory Council is scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 26, at Jeff's Catering in Brewer. DMR officials hope to start talking about possible scallop fishing measures for next winter at the meeting, she said.
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