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Nov 6, 2018 1:51 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Scallop Season Opens In Many Local Waters

Paul and Danny Lester shuck scallops on Tuesday, the day after state waters opened for the season in East Hampton.    KYRIL BROMLEY
Nov 6, 2018 3:12 PM

Monday marked the opening of scallop season in some local waters, and so far the catch varies depending on where baymen were looking on the South Fork.

All state waters in the towns of Southampton and East Hampton that are certified as healthy by the State Department of Environmental Conservation were opened for scalloping on Monday. While preliminary reports show the state waters in Southampton Town are producing strong numbers of scallops, the state waters in East Hampton are a different story.

“Scallop season doesn’t look too good,” Kelly Lester of Amagansett said on Monday after her first day out. “It definitely doesn’t look too hot, like years past.”

Ms. Lester’s brother Daniel Lester, who also works the bays, also said the pull was tough on Monday. He said he got an early start on Monday and took his boat out at daybreak. By 10:30 a.m., he only had seven bushels, out of the permitted 10-per-person limit, or 20 per boat.

“It’s not good—and the price is going to be high,” Mr. Lester said. “It’s definitely not like last year.”

Bruce Sasso, who with his wife, Charlotte Sasso, owns Stuart’s Seafood Shop in Amagansett, on Tuesday morning echoed what Mr. Lester had said, noting that the crop of meaty scallops had thus far not been as plentiful as last year.

Mr. Sasso said his customers can expect to pay somewhere between $25 and $30 per pound for bay scallops this year, and that the price will fluctuate because the scallop market is “a day-by-day, week-by-week” thing.

He added that he was concerned about the scallop season this year because there is not much eelgrass in the waters where fishermen harvest scallops. Eelgrass provides scallops with shelter from predators and the elements, and young scallops can attach to the grass more easily than to the sandy bottom.

Like Mr. Sasso, Southampton Town Trustee Ed Warner, a commercial fisherman, noted the role of eelgrass in how plentiful the scallop harvest is each year. In Southampton Town, too, Mr. Warner said there was very little eelgrass observed.

“Normally this time of year, you get a lot of sputnik grass, and that usually makes the scallop season last for months,” he said.

Mr. Warner said he went scalloping on Monday and did not have any problems finding scallops, although many were undersized. Without divulging details about where he was fishing, he added, with a smile, “It was good. It was me and two other boats. Scallop season was a success this year, so far.”

Ms. Lester and her brother both said that baymen working west of them were reaching their limits on Monday, which supported Mr. Warner’s report.

Danny Coronesi, who works at Cor-J Seafood in Hampton Bays, said the weather on Monday was very poor and the wind was blowing pretty hard in Peconic Bay, which he said could have contributed to the mediocre showing of scallops that he saw at his shop.

Mr. Coronesi said fishermen had brought in significantly fewer bushels as compared to opening day last year. Last year there were nearly 90 bags, and this year it was closer to 60.

Instead of charging the $20 per pound he charged last year, he plans to charge closer to $25, he said.

“The first week is usually the best, then it will slow down a bit,” Mr. Coronesi said of this year’s scallop season. “It seems like there’s some out there.”

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As if election results aren't depressing enough, today we learn of a poor scallop season opening day. Treating ourselves to a local delicacy will be even more expensive.
By oneseriousSicilian (60), medford on Nov 7, 18 7:59 AM
1 member liked this comment
These things are related. The election results are not a promising sign for the future health of our estuary.
By kuali (32), southampton on Nov 7, 18 8:50 AM
I'll wait until the back bays and creeks open on December 1st to freeze my face off diving for delicious scallops. Eel grass and bay scallops go together, when one thrives so does the other.
By Aeshtron (312), Southampton on Nov 7, 18 10:28 AM