Since its inception in the early 1980s, the Sea Scallop Research Program at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) has played an integral role in the management and current success of the sea scallop (Placopecten magellanicus) fishery. While the core of our efforts center on quantifying the sea scallop resource available for harvest by the commercial fishery each year, our diverse research encompasses a wide array of applied research questions including:
- Conservation engineering
- Reduction of finfish and sea turtle bycatch in commercial scallop dredges
- Improve the selectivity of scallop dredges with respect to juvenile sea scallops
- Discard and incidental mortality
- Understanding the survival of fish and scallops discarded as bycatch in the dredge fishery
- Understanding the survival of sea scallops that encounter the gear on the sea floor but don’t get captured
- Sea scallop biology and ecology
- Scallop growth across its range
- Diseases and parasites that affect the sea scallop
Sea scallops constitute one of the most valuable commercial fisheries in the United States, which, until the mid-1990s, was severely overfished. Through a combination of research, management and industry involvement, the Northwest Atlantic sea scallop stock has successful recovered. Some activities used to help rebuild the stock include rotational area management, limiting fishing days and allowable harvest, and gear modifications to limit mortality of young scallops.
The goals of our program are to contribute to the sustainable management of the sea scallop resource, while pursuing innovative research that enhances our knowledge of sea scallops and the environment in which they live.