R-04-03 Population structure of sea scallops (Placopecten magellanicus) in two coastal embayments in Maine

Paul Rawson
School of Marine Sciences

5751 Murray Hall
University of Maine
Orono, ME 04469

The coastal Maine sea scallop fishery is highly valued in fishing communities and supports a diverse group of fishermen, including off-season lobster fishermen and others who harvest multiple species throughout the year. It is distinct from other sea scallop fisheries because it is restricted to discrete inshore scallop beds, rather than the large, dense aggregations found elsewhere in the western Atlantic. In the past decade, the sea scallop catch in Maine has declined significantly, raising questions about the effectiveness of current scallop management.

Rawson and his graduate students conducted a genetic survey of scallop populations, elemental fingerprinting of scallop spat, and field-based experiments. They discovered that scallop populations in Cobscook Bay are genetically distinct from populations in other Maine bays and on Georges Bank. The researchers provided this information to the Sea Scallop Advisory Board and the Maine Department of Marine Resources. Establishing the genetic uniqueness of sea scallops in Cobscook Bay implies the need for local area management of that eastern Maine scallop population.

2-year project, 2004-2006
Total Sea Grant funds: $110,000

Associated publications
Owen, E. and P. Rawson. 2006. Spatial and temporal variation in sea scallop, Placopecten magellanicus, settlement in Cobscook Bay, Maine. [poster/PDF]