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Scallops grow large in Alaska

Laine Welch

One of the world's most delectable seafood delicacies is scallops, and the biggest and best of these shellfish come from Alaska.

Each July a fleet of just three to four boats fish for weathervane scallops in waters ranging from Yakutat to the Bering Sea, with most of the catch coming from around Kodiak.

Weathervanes are the largest scallops in the world, with a shell diameter averaging 10 inches.

Scallop boats drop big dredges that make tows along mostly sandy bottoms of strictly defined fishing areas. The fishery is closely monitored by onboard observers, at a cost to the boats of up to $400 a day.

"We accept that in order to go into the areas and make sure our bycatch and impact are minimal," said boat owner Jim Stone.

The boats catch, process, package and freeze the "meats" (the muscle that holds the shells together) at sea and can remain out until Thanksgiving.

Scallops are wildly popular in the U.S. and Europe. They can bring fishermen $7 to $8 a pound or more.

State managers keep a close eye on the stocks and Alaska catches have held steady at about half a million pounds for many years.

Compare that with East Coast catches that can top 50 million pounds a year.

Bring 'em back alive

The "man overboard" video is now live on the NIOSH YouTube channel. Find it at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2011-126d/

Laine Welch is a Kodiak-based fisheries journalist. Her Fish Radio programs can be heard on stations around the state. Her column appears on Sundays in the Daily News. This material is protected by copyright. For information on reprinting or placing on your website or newsletter, contact msfish@alaska.com.


LAINE WELCH
FISHERIES