Scallops to the Rescue

nina | June 23rd, 2011 - 9:00 am

Several New England fishing town’s fortunes are tied to a small sea creature:  SCALLOPS.

Scallops, unlike lobster, have proven remarkably recession proof with prices rising steadily through the downturn even as the amount caught held relatively steady. The wholesale price for a pound of the U.S. sea mollusk is $11.20, 41% higher than in November 2007. U.S. fishermen say the weak dollar makes the famously meaty scallops that thrive in the northern Atlantic more affordable.

Belgium, France, and other countries are buying more. Fresh -scallop exports to Canada alone jumped 110% in the first four months of this year compared to the same period last year and rose 22% to France, according to federal trade statistics.

Many expect to see higher demand for scallops from China, which banned Japanese seafood because of concerns about radiation following the March earthquake and tsunami.  At the same time, the U.S. scallop supply is limited by federal conservation rules to an annual catch of roughly 50 million pounds.  Areas where they can be caught are rotated to allow beds of young scallops to grow. 

There is growing global demand for lobsters, too, but supply has been plentiful, with record landings in 2010, and the price has been only slowly coming back after plunging in 2008. The industry has resisted many lobstering limitations, believing open access to the fishery is best long-term for preserving fishing jobs.

While rising prices are a boom for the scallop industry, it’s also bringing concerns. Should the price get too high, will restaurants take scallops off the menu?

Scallops typically are collected by towing service in austin a dredge or fishing net along the sea floor. The crew then shucks and ices the scallops at sea.  While scallops thrive in many parts of the world, the Placopecten magellanicus species of the Atlantic scallop fishery is coveted for its size.  Some as large as a soda can.  Heftier scallops have grown in popularity as tastes for scallops have changed. Scallops have graduated from being a bacon-wrapped appetizer or a supporting role on a fried-food platter to entree status.  New England restaurants serve dishes like pan-seared scallops with orange-ginger sauce. Eastern Fisheries remarkably recession proof with prices rising steadily through the downturn even as the amount caught held relatively steady.

If you”re in the food business and the item you’re serving can be the center of the plate.  Global trade is rapidly transforming the industry. One New England fishery company now ships 15% of its scallops to Europe; five years ago, its only substantial trading partner was Canada.  With demand growing, Fisheries are beginning to open scallop farms, to cultivate smaller bay scallops, off the coast of China.  Of all the fisheries, scallops are on top right now, but it could be better.  Possibly, more money coming in and more jobs from scallops. 

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