North Shore, Quebec — Scallop Fishing Area 16F
Fish harvesters drag a tow bar attached to metal chain-link baskets along the seafloor to catch Icenlandic scallops. This dredge stirs up the scallops from the seabed, which then are scooped into the baskets.
Known as the “Digby drag,” this rock dredge consists of a dozen metal chain-link baskets with a cumulative width of 16 feet (5 metres). It is attached to a tow bar by a cable that allows the dredge to be lowered and towed along the rocky bottom of scallop beds. The dredge is towed at low speed for about 20 minutes and then hauled up. The contents of the baskets are dumped onto a sorting deck fitted to the back of the vessel. Crew sort through the large rocks and pebbles to find scallops. The shellfish are shucked aboard the vessel and stored on ice in burlaps sacks. Unwanted species are returned to the ocean.
Scallop Fishing Area 16E on the North Shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence is one of 19 scallop fishing areas and sub-areas in Quebec. There are only nine fishing licences that permit vessels to harvest scallops in this area.
The scallop fishery is managed by effort control, which involves limits to size of mesh, size of scallops, days fishing, hours per day fished and number of vessels. Scallop dredges disturb habitat when dragged along the seabed, although impacts vary by sediment type. Undersized and unwanted species (bycatch) are also unintentionally caught. A number of measures address conservation in the fishery. These include:
SeaChoice - Some Concerns
Ocean Wise - Not Recommended
Seafood Watch - Good Alternative
Apr 06 - Nov 29
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans manages this fishery through the Quebec Region.
For the most recent scallop stock status, check the Department of Fisheries and Ocean’s science advisory reports.
Scallops are all hand shucked as they are caught and the abductor muscle (scallop meat) is rinsed in salt water and transferred to a clean burlap sack that allows the meat to breath. They are then placed on ice to await being sold to the buyer at the end of the day or taken home by the fishermen who may then freeze them in one-pound bags to be sold locally or to restaurants.