FWC approves shortened 2017 scallop season for St. Joe Bay

GULF COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP)-- You'll have a smaller window in which to gather scallops in St. Joe Bay in 2017.

On Wednesday, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approved a request to have scallop season run July 25 to Sept 10. The shortened 2017 scallop season includes all waters in St. Joseph Bay and those west of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County through the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County.

A typical scallop season runs from the first week in July through the third week in September. In 2016, the season was shortened to just three weekends following a devastating red tide outbreak which negatively impacted the scallop population in St. Joseph Bay.

The red tide outbreak led to modified local scallop regulations for 2016 that included the aforementioned shortened season and reduced bag limits. FWC researchers conducted a scallop restoration project last year within St. Joseph Bay to help speed the recovery of the scallop population. These efforts have been going well and the scallop population has shown signs of improvement. Staff will conduct similar restoration efforts in 2017.

“Staff and the community should be commended for their communication, management and restoration efforts in St. Joe Bay,” said Commissioner Chuck Roberts. “They were presented with a challenging situation and came through with a plan that balanced the needs of the resource with the economic and social needs of the community.”

Bag and vessel limits throughout the entire bay scallop harvest zone will be two gallons whole bay scallops in shell, or one pint of bay scallop meat per person with a maximum of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops in shell, or a 1/2 gallon bay scallop meat per vessel.