Thinking Outside the Box: Spatial Closures and the Maine Scallop Fishery
The Maine scallop fishery was formerly a valuable winter/spring fishery providing a substantial source of income to fishing businesses at a time of year without many other fishing opportunities. At its height, the fishery landed over 3.8 million pounds of scallop meats in 1981 valued at $15.2 million. Since that time, the fishery has experienced decline, reaching an all-time low in 2005 with just over 33,000 pounds of scallop meats harvested from Maine waters. This prompted the Maine Department of Marine Resources (ME DMR) to initiate a forward-thinking approach to rebuild this once robust fishery. The ME DMR has been working closely with the Scallop Advisory Council and members of the industry for several years to rebuild a sustainable resource and provide economic opportunity to coastal communities along the Maine coast. Beginning in 2009, the ME DMR adopted a spatial management approach that has included targeted area closures and Limited Access Areas, as well as implementing a 10 Year Rotational Management Plan. The combination of these conservation measures appears to be effective as demonstrated by 289,827 pounds of scallop meats being landed in 2012, an eight fold increase from 2005 as well as supporting are larger number of participants that have been displaced from the New England multispecies (groundfish) and shrimp fisheries. The presentation will review the evolution of the current management approach, which includes spatial closures, the benefits that closures have provided to the Maine and a 10 year rotational management plan that is currently being phased-in to the fishery.