Scallop season update: Still closed

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GULF COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Gulf County is known for its bay scallops, and this time of year, people come from near and far just to take a dive and fill up a bag.

One month ago, the scallop season was set to kick off, but it never did. An algae bloom put breaks on scallopers who were looking forward to the harvest.

"I have scalloped in the past with my family. It's been a tradition since I was very, very little, so I've passed that onto my kids as well," said Gulf Coast Vacations Marketing Director, Adam White.

But for the past two years, those coming just to scallop have been disappointed.

In 2016, Florida Fish and Wildlife officials limited the bay for harvest after fears of depleting the population.

This year, an algae bloom put a halt to the season the day before it was set to begin.

"It's a bloom that they are just monitoring the level. When the level is too high, it's not safe for consumption. So you don't want anyone out there eating it. We want everyone to be safe," said Gulf County TDC Executive Director, Kelli Godwin.

"The scallop season is a temporary close, so it doesn't mean it's a permanent close by no means. So we are telling guests that contact the FWC, look on their website and get notices of when they are thinking about opening scallop season," said White.

Tourism officials believe just because there is no scallop season, that doesn't mean locals and visitors aren't coming out to play.

"Well, it has possibly affected some of our businesses, but really the visitors call us. They're just wanting an update on the season, but when we tell them about all the other things to do there, they're still excited to come and it's actually an opportunity for them to try other things," Godwin explained.

"We haven't had really any kind of cancellations due to the scallop season or anything like that. They've just kind of been flat or even really," White pointed out.

And there's still hope the scallop season will be salvaged.

"We've been in communication with FWC and their latest report: they did some samples that they took on Monday and levels are still decreasing and I think only one of the sites of the four had a level that was above the allowable limit," said Godwin. "So that's a good sign that things are still decreasing."

If those levels decrease enough, the season will reopen, but no word yet on when that might happen.

TDC officials said FWC must have two consecutive samples that are clear before they could possibly talk about opening the season or extending it.

Godwin added the Annual Scallop Festival in October is set to go on, with or without a scallop season.