Starting Saturday seafood lovers with a mask, a snorkel and a license will be able to catch a scallop dinner. The recreational scalloping season is opening three days sooner than usual this year.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman Amanda Nalley says the early start will give Floridians an extra weekend of scalloping.
“The great part about this season opening early is that will allow additional opportunities,” Nalley says. “Instead of opening on a Tuesday, which is kind of mid-week, it’ll now open on a weekend.”
Nalley says the commission pushed the date forward at Gov. Rick Scott’s request. The hope is that more Floridians will be able to participate on a weekend.
For anyone not already familiar, Nalley says bay scallops are a little different than what you’ll probably see at a restaurant.
“Bay scallops are a little smaller than what you sometimes see when you see sea scallops, which are the big kind of silver-dollar-size scallops. Bay scallops are going to be closer to about a dime-size or a nickel-size meat,” Nalley says.
Scallop hunters still need a license, and Nalley says they’re available online or in most bait-and-tackle shops. Individuals are limited to two gallons of scallops in the shell or one pint shucked. For groups on boats there’s an overall maximum of 10 gallons in the shell and a half-gallon shucked.
The scalloping zone runs from the Pasco-Hernando County line all the way up to the west bank of the Mexico Beach Canal.