Scallop season dead in the water

GULF COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Gulf County has been waiting for months to see if their scallop season would open, but that hope is quickly fading.

"As of right now, I know FWC has been working the samples to see if the algae bloom is still in the waters," said Gulf County TDC Executive Director, Kelli Godwin.

Since July 24th, scallopers have been waiting for word that the harvest is open for business.

"The past 10 or so years we've had great production, but just recently it hasn't been there and it hasn't been able to be there," said Gulf County resident Cody Mills.

And now as the season comes to an end, it's apparent that it's probably not going to happen at all.

"Personally, when scallop season was postponed by the FWC, shortly after I did lose my seasonal job here at Half Hitch just because we weren't bringing in the revenue we needed," said Mills.

The problem: an algae bloom making the scallops dangerous for human consumption.

"FWC has been working to see if those toxins levels go down and have discussed possibly extending the season, but we're kind of running out of time a little bit so we're just waiting to hear from them," said Godwin.

Because the scallop season has been limited for almost the past two years officials are hoping next year will be bountiful.

"We haven't been giving them pressure for the past two or three years, so that will help. So hopefully, fingers crossed, next year will be the year there will be a rebound," Mills said.

"Well, we're hoping with the shorter seasons along with the restoration project we've been working on both years are going to ultimately be good for our population for the scallops," Godwin added.

"Did it need to be done? Yes, we knew there wasn't scallops out there. I have friends in the tourist industry here and they tell us scallops just weren't in the bay at the time so was the timing right now. But was the call right? Yes, I believe so," said Mills.

Gulf County officials said although they did not have a scallop season, the Annual Florida Scallop and Music Festival is still scheduled to go on October 6th-7th without a hitch.