In close partnership with Pasco County, implemented via Executive Order, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has temporarily modified the 2023 open season for the harvest of bay scallops within the Pasco Zone, extending the 10-day season to 37 days on a trial basis. The recreational bay scallop season for this area opens July 1 and closes Aug. 6, allowing harvest to begin during the weekend in advance of the Fourth of July holiday. These season dates also support a fun recreational opportunity for families as they occur before students return to Pasco County schools for the 2023-24 school year.
“Extending the season will increase the economic benefits from this popular recreational fishery to local communities in the region,” said Jessica McCawley, Division of Marine Fisheries Management Director. We will continue these efforts by exploring long-term season options for future years via the formal rulemaking process.”
Between 2017 and 2020, FWC took a pilot approach to establish regionally-specific bay scallop regulations while also maintaining the sustainability of local scallop populations. As part of this effort, the allowable harvest area for scallops was extended to include Pasco County waters starting in 2018. The Pasco Zone for bay scallop management includes all Florida waters south of the Pasco-Hernando county line and north of the Anclote Key Lighthouse (approximately 0.37 miles south of the Pasco-Pinellas county line.
The daily bag limit in this area is 2 gallons of whole bay scallops in the shell or 1 pint of shucked bay scallop meat per person, with no more than a total of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops in the shell or 1/2 gallon (4 pints) shucked bay scallop meat per vessel.
Throughout the season and region-wide, vessel limits do not allow an individual to exceed their personal bag limit.
- Scallops may be collected by hand or with a landing or dip net.
- There is no commercial harvest allowed for bay scallops in Florida.
For information on bay scallop regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Marine and click on “Recreational Regulations” and “Bay Scallops” under the “Crabs, Lobster and other Shellfish” tab.
Direct and continuous transit of legally harvested bay scallops is allowed through closed areas. To land scallops in a closed area, boaters may not stop their vessels in waters that are closed to harvest and must proceed directly to the ramp or place where the vessel is regularly docked, moored or otherwise stored in that closed area.
Boater and scalloper safety
Be safe when diving for scallops. Wear a life jacket when underway and do not drink and boat. When scalloping in open water, divers should stay within 300 feet of a properly displayed divers-down flag or device, and within 100 feet of a properly displayed divers-down flag or device if on a river, inlet or navigation channel. Boat operators traveling within 300 feet of a divers-down flag or device in open water or within 100 feet of one on a river, inlet or navigational channel must slow to idle speed. For more information, visit MyFWC.com/Boating/Regulations and click on “Divers-down Warning Devices.”
Stow it, don’t throw it
Don’t forget to stow your trash securely on your vessel so that it doesn’t blow out and do not discard empty scallop shells at the dock or in canals. Scallop shells may be discarded in a trash receptacle or in larger bodies of water where they are more likely to disperse.