Scalloping in the dead of winter

There’s not a lot of meat in one of these, but what there is will be treasured by many seafood lovers.

This time of year, I hear the puttering motors in the chill air before the sun’s even up as the fishing boats head out to drag the depths for scallops. No matter how low the thermometer reading or how bad the weather, the vessels venture by, or attempt to, intent on catching their daily limit of ten or 15 gallons a day in a season that runs no more than 50 or 70 days but may close earlier, depending on the sustainable harvest in each of the regulated zones.

Rigged with a boom for the heavy chain net that drags the seafloor for scallops, this vessel returns to port with its harvest.

A day not out on the water of the bays around Eastport is a day’s income that’s lost for the season. The economics of fishing are precarious enough.

These intrepid fishermen shuck their catch onboard, tossing the shells overboard, which provides grounding for the breeding of more, and then return to port with their precious harvest, often well before noon.

A shell flies toward the water as these fishermen quickly shuck the precious bivalves onboard.

The licenses are coveted and even the size of crews is limited by state law.

Come summer, many of the boats, with their rigging reconfigured, and their crews will have turned their attention to lobster.

Other important harvests here are urchins and clams.

What workers impress you the most when they’re out in bad weather?

 

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