Scallop season is in full swing and residents and tourists alike love to dive down and grab those white shells filled with delicious scallops.
However, the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce would like to remind scallopers to be mindful not to toss the shells back into the canals.
Every scalloper that goes out into the Gulf of Mexico is allowed a maximum bag limit. This equates to 2 gallons of whole scallops in the shell or 1 pint of scallop meat per person per day. The vessel limit is 10 gallons in the shell or 1/2 gallon of meat.
On average, thousands of visitors and locals collect their maximum allowance. If every boat is dumping 10 gallons of empty shells in the canal or on the spring floors, it equates to 12 square feet of bottom coverage.
Thousands of square feet can potentially end up covered due to improper dumping in the freshwater systems.
Why is that a problem?
Shells can accumulate and blanket areas around the boat ramps and docks. This kills the vegetation on the bottom and destroys the habitat for fish, crabs and manatees.
Scallops were reintroduced to local gulf waters in a project that has been incredibly successful. They live offshore in beds of seagrass, but not in the fresh water of Kings Bay.
In King’s Bay, there isn’t a heavy tidal action to bury them deep in the shifting sands. Therefore, the shells end up stopping the growth of plants.
How can you help?
By refraining from dumping shells in the waterways, scallopers will be more likely to enjoy a summer without worries of regulations looming overhead.
Instead, use the shells in a decorative way or put them in a place on land where hard shell fill is desirable.