R-20-01 Identifying Seed Source Populations Supporting the Culture of Atlantic Sea Scallops in Coastal Maine

Paul Rawson
University of Maine

Huijie Xue
University of Maine

Caitlin Cleaver
FB Environmental Associates

Phoebe Jekielek
Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership

The sea scallop (Placopecten magellanicus) fishery is the third most lucrative fishery in the United States, and in Maine, sea scallop aquaculture is a largely untapped industry that presents aquaculturists and fishermen with an opportunity to expand and diversify their businesses. Scallop aquaculturists deploy mesh bags in coastal waters into which scallop larvae, referred to as seed, can settle. After several months in the collectors, the scallops are large enough to be moved to a facility where they can grow to market-size. The dispersal of scallop seed and seed growth is heavily dependent on local hydrodynamic and biological processes, such as water flow, predation, and competition. Thus, quantifying the dispersal of scallop larvae is crucial to the sustainable management of both wild populations and farmed sea scallop stock.

The goal of this project is to model patterns of larval dispersal to predict the origins of larvae collected in aquaculture mesh bags. Researchers will test the model by conducting a genetic analysis to compare scallop seed collected at aquaculture sites with adult scallops in potential source populations. These results will identify crucial spawning stocks and characterize patterns of connectivity among inshore and offshore populations to inform the management of Maine’s growing sea scallop aquaculture industry.

Two-year project, 2020-2022
Sea Grant funds: $149,874