Maine’s small but unique coastal scallop fishery has been a lucrative source of income for fishing communities, only second in value to the state’s lobster fishery. In response to a steady decline in landings, the Maine Department of Marine Resources initiated a series of emergency management measures in 2009 to protect and rebuild the resource, including closing some scallop grounds to fishing for a period of three years. The expectation is that populations will recover as new individuals recruit first to the closed area and then, as they grow to legal size, to the fishery. Closed areas may also serve as a source of new recruits to adjacent locations. It remains unclear which beds or management areas serve as key spawning biomass and sources of new recruits. Identifying the scale over which dispersal occurs is central to understanding whether closed areas are likely to serve as sources or sinks of new recruits and whether specific areas should remain closed as long-term spawning sanctuaries.
Taking advantage of the opportunity presented by fishery closures and the new rotational management plan, Owen will analyze scallops from two locations for microsatellite markers to determine parentage relationships, which can provide estimates of recent dispersal or connectivity among locations. This proof-of-concept study will assess the feasibility of using genetic markers to assess the source of juvenile scallops to closed areas and adjacent areas that are open to fishing, thus helping to evaluate and inform management decisions.
Sea Grant funds: $4,600