January 20, 2017 - Three scallop areas along the Maine coast are scheduled for closure or limited closure based on DMR survey data. Two of the areas, Muscle Ridge and Inner Cranberry Isle, will remain open on a limited basis for divers, while the Chandler Bay/Head Harbor area will be closed to all harvesting. The effective date of the closures will be Monday, January 22, 2017.
The Muscle Ridge Area, located near Spruce Head, has been open this season two days per week (Monday and Tuesday) for draggers and two days a week (Wednesday and Friday) for divers. Recent DMR survey work has revealed high concentrations of sublegals (smaller than the legal 4 inch diameter size) in the Muscle Ridge area. Survey work has also shown recovery in the area from last season, prompting the Department to continue this rebuilding trend in the Muscle Ridge area as overall densities in this area of the coast are low, making it vital to afford protection to remaining productive areas. The area will remain open to hand harvest by divers when they are able to resume their fishing season on March 1.
Fishermen reports and DMR survey work have revealed high concentrations of seed scallops in or near the Cranberry Isle rotational area, which was closed the past two seasons as part of the department’s rotational management plan. The area includes the MDI Limited Access Area, which encompasses Somes Sound. After 7 weeks of fishing primarily in the inner portion of the rotational area, the majority of drag boats have moved out of the area, indicating that a significant proportion of the harvestable product has been landed from the inner Cranberry Isle area. Therefore, an immediate closure of the inner portion of the Cranberry Isle Area, including the Mount Desert Island Limited Access Area is being implemented for the remainder of the 2016-17 season. The area will remain open to hand harvest. Because very little fishing has occurred in the offshore portion of the rotational area, and the area south of the Cranberry Isles shall remain open to both draggers and divers.
Since the closure on January 1, 2017 of the upper part of the Chandler Bay near Jonesport, the lower part of the Bay and the Moosabec Reach Limited Access Area have been the target of increased fishing pressure. DMR survey work has revealed a 50 percent decrease in harvestable biomass in the area, prompting a closure which, along with the others, will take effect Monday, January 22, 2017. Mud Hole Channel and offshore areas southeast of Mark Island will remain open.