There are only 2 types of scallop in the water surrounding the Channel Islands:
- King scallop
- Queen scallop
Scallops are an important fishery in Jersey. A yearly tonnage could be as much as 400 tonnes. 90% of scallops are caught using dredges, with the remainder being dived for either commercially or recreationally. They are excellent to eat and are also receiving interest from the aquaculture industry as it is a good species for fish farming.
King scallops can grow to over 20cm in diameter and can live for 25 years.
There are two methods commonly used for the fishing of scallops - dredging and scuba-diving.
Dredging is the most effective method for catching scallops. A typical dredge used locally:
- is about 80cm wide
- weighs about 100kg
- has 9 teeth which dig into the sand
- has a chain mail belly
These will be towed in groups of four to six behind a beam. Modern dredges today have spring-loaded teeth, meaning the whole tooth bar will fold back on hitting a rock and return to the original position once the obstacle has passed.
The other main method of scallop fishing in Jersey is scuba-diving. The scallop divers’ philosophy has been to lift only market-sized scallops, leaving all other life undisturbed. Unlike the dredge, there is no real evidence of where the diver has been and regeneration is quick as juvenile scallops are not damaged. Arguably the scallop is also in better condition for market using this method.
Conserving scallop stocks
Scallop stocks are conserved by the implementation of the following guidelines:
- anybody wishing to sell scallops must possess a valid fishing license. This controls fishing effort
- anybody wishing to dive for scallops, either commercially or recreationally, must possess a scallop diving permit
- dredging and trawling are banned from a number of inshore areas, which protects not only scallop stocks but the sensitive coastal zone
- the department has seeded local waters with juvenile scallops on two occasions. The seeded scallops will spawn at least once before reaching market size and supplement local stocks
- minimum size to be taken from the sea is 10.2cm
- recreational fishermen have a bag limit of 24 scallops a day
King Scallop - biology and regulations in Jersey