Scouting for scallops

Once collected, scallops are put in cold water with ice to keep them fresh before cleaning.

When does scallop season open in Citrus County and how long does it last?

It starts July 1 and runs through Sept. 24.

What are some of the no-nos for scallopers?

scallop shell sign

A sign at the Fort Island Trail boat ramp encourages boaters to not discard scallop shells into the water.

They should not discard scallop shells in inshore waters commonly used for recreational activities, which includes the Homosassa and Crystal rivers.

Why?

Piles of discarded scallop shells can create hazards for swimmers and damage seagrass habitat.

So what do I do with the shells?

Put them in a trash receptacle or in larger bodies of water where they are more likely to disperse.

Can I bag all the scallops I want?

No. The daily bag limit is 2 gallons of whole bay scallops in the shell or 1 pint of bay scallop meat per person, with a maximum of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops in the shell or 1/2 gallon (4 pints) bay scallop meat per vessel.

scallop

Vessel limits do not allow an individual to exceed their personal bag limit.

Are there any other restrictions?

• Scallops can only be collected by hand or with a landing or dip net.

• There is no commercial harvest allowed for bay scallops in Florida.

• Direct and continuous transit of legally-harvested bay scallops is allowed through closed areas.

• Boaters may not stop their vessels in waters that are closed to harvest and must proceed directly to the dock or ramp to land scallops in a closed area.

What are some common-sense rules I should observe while out on the boat looking for scallops?

• Wear a life jacket when underway and do not drink and boat.

• When scalloping in open water, divers should stay within 300 feet of a properly displayed divers-down flag or device, and within 100 feet of a properly displayed divers-down flag or device if on a river, inlet or navigation channel.

• Boat operators traveling within 300 feet of a divers-down flag or device in open water or within 100 feet of one on a river, inlet or navigational channel must slow to idle speed.

For information, visit MyFWC.com/Boating/Regulations and click on “Divers-down Warning Devices.”

Is there somewhere I can go to have all these regulations spelled out and to get more information?

Visit MyFWC.com/Marine and click on “Recreational Regulations” and “Bay Scallops” under the “Crabs, Shrimp and Shellfish” tab.

— Source: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Contact Chronicle reporter Michael D. Bates at 352-563-3205 or mbates@chronicleonline.com.