Keith Connors

Weekdays 10a-3p

Pasco extended scallop season not gonna happen. Hold the butter! Scalloping season in Pasco County will not be extended this summer, despite the push from tourism officials and Pasco County. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which regulates scallop harvesting, has decided that it is in the long-term interest of scallop populations to keep the season shorter.

Pasco County officials reported record-high scallop hauls last year, generating an estimated $1.2 million in economic impact. With this success, local leaders urged for a longer scalloping season, but the commission insists that last year’s haul may not be a good indicator of what to expect for the 2023 season.

Carly Jones, a spokesperson for the commission, explained that the scallop population abundance fluctuates annually, and as such, monitoring the harvest is more important than population monitoring. Recent studies suggest that the current level of harvest may be approaching a limit in the near future, and thus, monitoring the harvest is crucial.

Pasco County Commission chairperson Jack Mariano agrees with the need for monitoring, but he believes the commission has reached the wrong conclusion. Pasco had an average of 10.4 scallops per 200 square meters, which is comparable to other counties with longer scalloping seasons. Mariano is urging local legislators to take steps to support the scalloping harvest in Pasco and believes that the state should get out of the way of economic boosters like scallop harvesting.

Wendy Longman, owner of Windsong Charters and a member of Pasco’s Tourist Development Council, understands the need for monitoring and supports further studies into the local scallop population. While her fellow boat captains want an expanded season, she recognizes that any decision should be based on data, not emotion.

The annual scallop harvest season varies along the Gulf Coast based on studies of population health, and the commission has decided that a longer scallop season is not in the best interest of the scallop population. Pasco scallop lovers may be disappointed this summer, but the decision to keep the scalloping season shorter is ultimately for the long-term good of the scallop population. TBT