The prospects of the 2021 Peconic Bay scallop harvest rebounding this year are dimming ahead of the November opening of the season for the shellfishery, experts say.
Despite efforts to step up seeding the bay with young scallops, and early signs of hope over the summer, adult scallops appear headed toward a third straight annual mass die-off.
“We are seeing high mortality of adult scallops at most of our monitoring sites throughout the Peconic Bays,” said Dr. Stephen Tettelbach, a shellfish ecologist with the Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Marine Program, who put the mortality rates of adult scallops at 64–99% as of mid-August.
As Dan’s Papers has reported, federal officials recently declared last year’s Peconic Bay scallop fishery collapse a disaster for the second time in two years.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation blamed the die-offs on high summer water temperatures, low dissolved oxygen, physiological stress of adult scallop spawning and an outbreak of a coccidian parasite. Predation by cownose rays is also considered to be a contributing factor, the agency said.
Peconic Bay scallops and their high price point (sometimes $30 a pound) made scallops a staple of not only local cuisine, but of the East End economy.