Bay scallop season starts June 28 in Fla. - WNCN: News, Weather

Bay scallop season starts June 28 in Fla.

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PASCO COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Get your bay scallop bags and shucking tools ready. The recreational bay scallop season opens in some Gulf of Mexico state waters (shore to 9 nautical miles) starting June 28, three-days earlier than the season was slated to start.

The portion of Gulf state waters is from the Pasco-Hernando county line north and west to the west bank of the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County.

The season will remain open through Sept. 24, with the first day of the closure on Sept. 25.

Gov. Rick Scott asked the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to open the 2014 season early to provide additional opportunities to Florida’s residents and visitors who flock to the coast to partake in this activity.

The season is an economic draw to the coastal counties within the open region. This change is not expected to harm the scallop population.

All size limits and bag limits remain the same. The bag limit is 2 gallons of whole bay scallops or 1 pint of meat per person, per day, with a vessel limit of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops or a half-gallon of meat. Scallops may be collected by hand or with a landing or dip net.

Scallops cannot be taken ashore outside of the open area.

There is no commercial harvest for bay scallops in Florida.

The average number of scallops observed during 2013’s post-season surveys suggests similar or slightly rising abundances for 2014 in Homosassa, St. Joseph Bay and Steinhatchee. The St. Marks average has been decreasing since June 2012, which is most likely due to increased storm runoff in recent years.

FWC has tips to be safe when diving for scallops. Tips include staying within 300 feet of a properly displayed divers-down flag when scalloping in open water and within 100 feet of a properly displayed divers-down flag if on a river, inlet or navigation channel. Boat operators traveling within 300 feet of a divers-down flag in open water or 100 feet of one on a river, inlet or navigational channel must slow to idle speed.

Participants can email BayScallops@MyFWC.com to ask questions or send additional information.

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