The 2018 recreational bay scallop season for Dixie County and a portion of Taylor County opens June 16 and will remain open through Sept. 10. This includes all state waters from the Suwannee River to the Fenholloway River.
Gov. Rick Scott said, “Each summer, thousands of Floridians and visitors come to our coastal communities for the world’s best scalloping. With the opening of scallop season along with Florida’s abundant fishing opportunities, I am encouraging everyone to experience for themselves why Florida is the Fishing Capital of the World. This is a great time to get outside and enjoy the Gulf Coast’s beautiful waters, pristine beaches and world-class seafood.”
“Harvesting bay scallops is a fun outdoor activity for the whole family,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Chairman Bo Rivard. “The conservation of this species is important for recreation and the economics of these coastal areas.”
Other 2018 Season Dates
Additional bay scallop season dates for 2018 are as follows:
St. Joseph Bay and Gulf County: Aug. 17 through Sept. 30. This region includes all state waters from the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County to the westernmost point of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County.
Franklin County through northwestern Taylor County (including Carrabelle, Lanark and St. Marks): July 1 through Sept. 24. This region includes all state waters from the westernmost point of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County to Rock Island near the mouth of the Fenholloway River in Taylor County.
Levy, Citrus and Hernando counties (including Cedar Key, Crystal River and Homosassa): July 1 through Sept. 24. This region includes all state waters south of Alligator Pass Daybeacon #4 near the mouth of the Suwannee River in Levy County to the Hernando – Pasco county line.
Pasco County: A trial 10-day open season will occur July 20-29. This region includes all state waters south of the Hernando – Pasco county line and north of the Anclote Key Lighthouse in northern Pinellas County, and includes all waters of the Anclote River.
These season dates are for 2018 only. In late 2018 or early 2019, the FWC will set the 2019 seasons for Gulf and Pasco counties, consider continuing the 2018 season structure for the remaining portions of the open scallop harvest area in 2019, and will work toward creating a more permanent season structure for 2020 and beyond.
As the 2018 season moves forward, share your comments on what you would like to see for a future season structure at MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments. The FWC is very interested in understanding whether the public prefers regional differences in the season dates or a consistent season across the harvest area, as well as what season dates work best for various regions. Public feedback will be an important factor for determining whether further changes are needed when making a decision about the long-term season dates.
Boater and scalloper safety
Be safe when diving for scallops. Stay within 300 feet of a properly displayed divers-down flag or device when scalloping in open water, 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 more information, visit MyFWC.com/Boating/Regulations and click on “Divers-down Warning Devices.”
Bag limits and other regulations
Bag and vessel limits throughout the entire bay scallop harvest zone are 2 gallons whole bay scallops in shell or 1 pint of bay scallop meat per person, with a maximum of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops in shell or 1/2 gallon bay scallop meat per vessel.
Scallops may be collected by hand or with a landing or dip net.
Scallops must be landed within the area that is open to harvest and may not be possessed on waters outside of areas that are open to harvest or during the closed season.
There is no commercial harvest allowed for bay scallops in Florida.
For information on bay scallop regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Bay Scallops.”
Done for the day? Help FWC’s scallop researchers by completing an online survey at svy.mk/bayscallops. Harvesters can indicate where they harvested scallops, how many they collected and how long it took to harvest them. Participants can email BayScallops@MyFWC.com to ask questions or send additional information.