Maine sea farmers are taking a page from Japan (again), an industry titan, to test a new method of farming scallops they hope will grow larger mollusks, and grow them faster than current methods do.

The experiment, in which sea scallops are pinned in pairs to vertical ropes suspended in the ocean water, exposes the animal to more water flow. That, in turn, causes them to open and close their shells more often to feed and helps their adductor muscle, the part that Americans eat, grow larger through exercise during the scallops three-year seed-to-harvest cycle. Farmers hope the “ear-hanging” method will allow them to develop their test farms into commercial-scale operations, which are needed to keep up with rising consumer demand.

And they hope that three scallop pinning, drilling and cleaning machines that a Maine-based investor is bringing to the state from Japan will help them rein in the high labor costs of ear hanging, so they can turn a bigger profit.

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