Restoration of Bay Scallop Populations and Fisheries in the Peconic Bays, New York

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In 2006, we initiated an intensive restoration program to jump-start Peconic bay scallop populations which had been decimated by brown tide algal blooms from 1985-1995. As originally hypothesized, populations proved to be recruitment limited – as evidenced by order of magnitude increases in larval settlement following initiation of restoration. Modeled production of fertilized eggs from spawns of broodstock deployed at high densities (lantern nets on longlines, free-planting) accounted for significant proportions of calculated totals for respective embayments. Significant increases in natural, benthic populations were not seen immediately, but the size of the larval pool increased further as we continued and expanded restoration efforts. Then, natural populations began to rebuild throughout the Peconic Bays within a few years. Annual commercial scallop landings have increased by as much as 30x compared to average harvests for the 12 years prior to initiation of our restoration efforts. Increases in dockside revenues since 2008 have far exceeded the total spent on restoration. All lines of evidence confirm that restoration has driven the observed increases in populations and fishery landings. Sustained restoration efforts, at an appropriate scale, may be an effective strategy for increasing natural bay scallop population densities/sizes to threshold levels above which they become self-sustaining.


Benthic Ecology Meeting (BEM)


Portland, ME