All you need to know about Scallops
There are a number of commercial scallop fisheries in the US targeting several species of scallop, but by far the largest fishery is that of the giant sea scallop, aka Placopecten magellanicus, the “sea scallop”. Giant sea scallops are fished from Canada down to the waters off Cape Hatteras. Bay scallops are....
Maine’s drag season is determined each year but basically it lasts between 55 and 70 days (depending on the area) that can occur between December 1 and April 15. Draggers can fish any open day and are limited to either 15 gallons (roughly 135 pounds) or 10 gallons (90 pounds) depending on fishing area. They bring in over 95% of Maine scallops.
95 percent of the quota is allocated to the DAS (Days at Sea) – vessels. Their allocation comes in the form of a certain number of days they’re allowed to fish, plus a certain number of trips into productive access areas. When fishing in open areas their travel time counts against the amount of time they’re allowed to fish, so they tend to stay out on long trips – if it takes 20 hours to steam to a spot, they want to stay there a while before steaming back. They can fish in any open area at any time throughout the year and can take as many pounds as they want. If they’re fishing in an access area they’re limited to 18,000 pounds. While fishing they store their catch in cloth bags buried in ice, which melts and can soak into the scallops. They sometimes bring in tens of thousands of pounds from one trip.
5 percent of the quota is allocated to the IFQ (Individual Fishing Quota) fleet – “dayboats”. Their quota comes in the form of a set number of pounds they can harvest. They can fish in any open area any time of year but can only harvest 600 pounds per trip
Maine divers get the same number of days to fish as the draggers, but their calendar is different – their days can select occur between November and April. They’re also limited to either 15 gallons or 10 gallons depending on area. Divers bring in less than 5% of Maine’s landings, which constitute less than 2% of landings overall, so we’re talking a TINY fraction of US sea scallops. The important take-home from this is that the VAST majority of scallops labeled “diver scallops” were actually harvested by draggers. And the fraud is so pervasive that some reputable agencies actually define “diver scallop” as a scallop that hasn’t been treated with chemicals.
Theoretically, a dry scallop is one that hasn’t been soaked in chemicals like sodium tripolyphosphate. But, as with the term “diver scallop”, no one actually polices who uses this term, so it’s abused so often as to be essentially meaningless. I’ve seen “dry scallops” that have clearly been soaked in chemicals, and I’ve heard of companies who call a scallop “dry” as long as it’s soaked for just a few hours as opposed to 24 hours or longer. Also, it’s important to remember that if you’re buying scallops from trip boats, they’ve been sitting on ice, absorbing water over the course of the trip.