It's that time of year again to unfurl the dive flag, put a mask on and head to the coast to collect some bay scallops. The recreational season is open in Gulf of Mexico state waters (shore to 9 nautical miles) from the Pasco-Hernando county line to the west bank of the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County starting July 1. The season will remain open through Sept. 24, with the first day of the closure on Sept. 25.
The bag limit is two gallons of whole bay scallops or one 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 state and federal waters.
The average number of scallops observed during pre-season surveys doubled in Homosassa and St. Joseph Bay and increased slightly in Steinhatchee. The St. Marks average decreased substantially from June 2012, which was most likely due to effects from Tropical Storm Debby.
Be safe when diving for scallops. Be sure to stay 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.
Done for the day? Help FWC's scallop researchers by completing an online survey at http://svy.mk/bayscallops . Harvesters can indicate where they harvest scallops, how many they collect and how long it takes to harvest them. Participants can email BayScallops@MyFWC.com to ask questions or send additional information.
Learn more by visiting MyFWC.com/Fishing and clicking on "Saltwater,""Recreational Regulations" and " Bay Scallops ."
The above was released Monday by the FWC.