NOAA Fisheries announced 14 projects to be funded through the 2024 Scallop Research Set-Aside Program, with researchers partnering with the scallop fleet to investigate sea scallop research priorities developed by the New England Fishery Management Council. 

Participants conduct research and harvest their set-aside award, generating funds for the research. Based on an ex-vessel price estimate of $14 per pound, NOAA Fisheries expects the awards to generate approximately $22 million; $5 million to fund research, and $17 million to compensate industry partners who harvest the set-aside scallops.

“In RSA programs, researchers compete for funding through a federal grant competition managed by NOAA Fisheries,” according to the announcement from the NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic office. “No federal funds support the research. Instead, the programs award pounds of sea scallops from amounts “set-aside” annually for this purpose.”

 The projects shown below (with their budgets) include investigations of scallop abundance, fishing gear performance, interactions with sea turtles and effects of offshore wind energy development:

Institution: Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation (CFRF) - Operationalizing ScallApp: A Tool to Engage the Fishing Industry in Tracking Scallop Health and Reproduction (2-year cooperative agreement)

Principal Investigator: David Bethoney, PhD

Project summary: The applicant proposes to further develop and operationalize ScallApp, a smartphone application developed by CFRF and the Northeast Fisheries Science Center to increase and enhance fishery dependent data collection.  ScallApp is designed to help standardize and communicate fishery-dependent observations of scallop diseases, meat quality, and reproductive stages.


 Institution: CFRF - Incorporating limited access scallop vessels into the Scallop Research Fleet (2-year grant)

Principal Investigator: David Bethoney, PhD

Project summary: The applicant proposes to expand the utility of the Scallop Research Fleet through the monitoring of access area openings through time by adding limited access scallop vessels.  The Scallop Research Fleet was established to leverage scallop vessels to collect fishery dependent data on scallop biology. 


 Institution: Coonamessett Farm Foundation (CFF) - Understanding the Impacts of the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery on Loggerhead Sea Turtles (1-year grant)

Principal Investigator: Samir Patel, PhD

Project summary: The applicant proposes to tag and collect biological data from 20 loggerhead turtles in order to document the seasonal distribution of loggerhead turtles within the Mid-Atlantic Bight, identify the presence or absence of nematode parasites and anthropogenic waste in lavage samples, and expand the database of loggerhead turtle biology and ecology.  The applicant also proposes using a remotely operated vehicle to document behavior and potential prey species.


 Institution: CFF - Seasonal Survey of the Scallop Fishery on the Eastern Portion of Georges Bank (1-year grant)

Principal Investigators: Luisa Garcia, Farrell Davis, Natalie Jennings, and Liese Siemann, PhD

Project summary: The applicant proposes to study the seasonal changes in scallop abundance, distribution, reproductive stage, and health status, as well as seasonal bycatch rates and spatial and temporal distributions of key bycatch species on the eastern part of Georges Bank and Southern Flank. 


Institution: CFF - An optical assessment of sea scallop abundance and distribution in select areas of the mid-Atlantic and Georges Bank (4-year cooperative agreement)

Principal Investigators: Tasha O’Hara, Luisa Garcia, Liese Siemann, PhD, and Victoria Oriole

Project summary: The applicant proposes to conduct annual optical surveys of the Atlantic sea scallop (Placopecten magellanicus) throughout southern Georges Bank and the northern portion of the mid-Atlantic, in coordination with the Northeast Fisheries Science Center.  These surveys will be used to collect photographic imagery from transects in the survey areas, develop GIS-based plots of scallop distribution and density by size and length-frequency distributions, and derive overall scallop biomass estimates (total and exploitable) within each Scallop Area Management Simulator (SAMS) model area surveyed.


Institution: CFF - Tension in the Air:  Using a tensiometer to assess dredge fullness and loss during haul back comparing the 5-row and extended-link apron dredge configurations (2-year grant)

Principal Investigators: Farrell Davis, Ryan Munnelly, Luisa Garcia, and Natalie Jennings

Project summary: The applicant proposes to assess catch performance differences between a dredge with a 5-row apron with a 1.5:1 twine top and a dredge with an extended-link apron with a 2:1 twine top.  The applicant postulates that the extended link apron may be more effective at retaining target catch and reducing bycatch than the five-row apron, which is a gear modification required to reduce flatfish bycatch when triggered by accountability measures.  In addition, the applicant would use tensiometers to record warp tension during each tow to relate tension to catch weight/composition, and gauge their utility for monitoring dredge fullness. 


 Institution: Maine Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) - Sea Scallop Assessment in the Northern Gulf of Maine (2-year grant)

Principal Investigator: Carlton Huntsberger

Project summary: The applicant proposes to conduct an annual dredge-based sea scallop survey in Federal Gulf of Maine waters.  This survey is designed to provide abundance data on recently observed recruitment events across the survey domain.


Institution: University of Connecticut - Combining ocean models and historical shell archives to quantify and project spatiotemporal changes in Atlantic Sea Scallop functional traits (2-year grant)

Principal Investigator: Catherine M. Matassa, PhD

Project summary: The applicant proposes to identify where and when biotic and abiotic stressors are most and least likely to affect the scallop resource using a combination of high-resolution climate model outputs and analysis of a spatially and temporally extensive sea scallop shell archive, in conjunction with existing predator assemblage and bottom type datasets.


Institution: University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) - Assessing Cumulative Impact of Offshore Wind Energy Development on Sea Scallop Laval Transport and Settlement in Southern New England Waters (2-year grant)

Principal Investigator: Changsheng Chen, PhD

Project summary: The applicant proposes to further evaluate the cumulative impacts of wind turbine generators on scallop larval dispersion, transport, and recruitment.  This will be accomplished using wind turbine-resolving hydrodynamic (NS-FVCOM) and scallop individual-based models that were developed in part by previous scallop RSA awards. 


Institution: SMAST - Intensive drop camera surveys of sea scallops in two key areas of Georges Bank (1-year grant)

Principal Investigators: Adam J. Delargy, PhD, and Kevin D.E. Stokesbury, PhD

Project summary: The applicant proposes to conduct drop camera surveys in two Nantucket Lightship SAMS zones and part of the Northern Edge Habitat Area of Particular Concern.  Results will be used to estimate scallop biomass in support of the scallop harvest specification process.  


Institution: SMAST - A seasonal video-trawl survey to assess the population size of yellowtail flounder (Pleuronectes ferruginea) and windowpane (Scophthalmus aquosus) on Eastern Georges Bank (1-year grant) 

Principal Investigator: Kevin D.E. Stokesbury, PhD

Project summary: The applicants propose to conduct seasonal video-trawl surveys to assess the population size of yellowtail flounder and windowpane flounder on eastern Georges Bank.


Institution: Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) - An Assessment of Sea Scallop Abundance and Distribution for the Nantucket Lightship, Closed Area II, and Southern Flank (1-year grant)

Principal Investigator: David B. Rudders, PhD

Project summary: The applicant proposes to conduct a high resolution, stratified random dredge survey to sample the Nantucket Lightship, Closed Area II, Southern Flank, and Extension SAMS Areas.  Results will be used to produce scallop biomass estimates in support of scallop harvest specifications.


Institution: VIMS - Retrospective and prospective:  Climate driven changes in growth and distribution in the sea scallop Placopecten magellanicus (2-year grant)

Principal Investigators: Roger Mann, PhD, and David Rudders, PhD

Project summary: The applicant proposes to describe the relationship between scallop growth and yield over time, space and bottom water temperature, in a temporally and spatially explicit manner using mixed effects models in such a way that bottom water temperature forecasts produce parallel forecasts of growth and meat yield.  


 Institution: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution - Disentangling recruitment and growth dynamics of the Atlantic sea scallop, Placopecten magellanicus (2-year grant)

Principal Investigators: Kirstin Meyer-Kaiser, PhD, and Rubao Ji, PhD

Project summary: The applicant proposes to examine environmental factors driving scallop recruitment and growth in the Nantucket Lightship, Closed Area I, and the Great South Channel.



A chart shows Northeast scallop RSA survey coverage for 2024 from the Mid-Atlantic to northern Gulf of Maine. New England Fishery Management Council graphic.





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