How To Harvest Nantucket Scallops

November 3, 2015


Seafood fans know that fish and shellfish can taste different depending on the waters from which they are harvested. Nantucket Bay scallops are widely known for their flavor and delicate texture and scalloping is a big part of Nantucket Island tradition. Nantucket is unique on the East Coast as its waters are one of a few places where bay scallops can be found. The fact that seafood lovers prize Nantucket scallops means that shucked and cleaned scallops can be very expensive. Fortunately, you can harvest them yourself.

Scalloping Regulations On Nantucket

Fishing for scallops on Nantucket is carefully regulated to preserve future harvests. Opening day for scalloping season is always on October 1; the season ends on March 31. You are permitted to harvest scallops from Wednesday to Sunday only.

How To Harvest Nantucket Scallops

Get A Permit

You will need a recreational shellfish license from the town. These are available at the Public Safety Building.

Get the Right Gear

You will need:

    • Waders or a wetsuit

    • A push rake

    • A clam basket

    • A tire tube (for keeping your clam basket afloat)

    • Waterproof gloves

    • Warm clothes

Note that there are Nantucket retailers that can supply you with everything you will need to go scalloping.

Know Which Scallops You Can Harvest

Any scallops that you harvest must have a growth ring that is raised and well defined or they must be 2.5 inches from top to bottom. Note that there is a limit on how much you can take. You are only allowed one bushel per license each week.

Identify a Scalloping Spot

Like fishing holes, productive scalloping spots are traditionally kept secret. Scallops live in eelgrass so when you have location that seems suitable to you, walk out until the water gets dark and you are not able to see sand.

Open and Clean Your Scallops

Once you’ve harvested your scallops, you can pay someone to open them for you; however, there are tutorials online that can show you how to do it yourself. If you decide to open scallops yourself, you should add an opening knife to the gear list above.

Scalloping requires equipment that you will probably not need outside of the season. Rather than keep these items lying around your home, you may want to store them at the close of the season so they will be ready to go when next scalloping season rolls around. A storage unit is perfect for seasonal items. To learn more about storage for your scalloping gear, contact us at Nantucket Storage Center. Our customer service staff is knowledgeable, friendly and will be happy to help.

photo credit: DSCN7624 via photopin (license)

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