FWC reminds scallopers to stay safe, recognize and use divers-down flags and buoys

*(Via MyFWC) – 2017 bay scallop season in Dixie/Taylor counties starts June 16

Get your bay scallop bags and shucking tools ready. The 2017 recreational bay scallop season for Dixie County and parts of Taylor County will open June 16 and remain open through Sept. 10. This includes all state waters from the Suwannee River through the Fenholloway River. These new season dates are for 2017 only and are an opportunity to explore regionally-specific bay scallop seasons.

Harvesting bay scallops is a fun outdoor activity that the whole family can participate in. It also has an important economic impact on coastal areas in the open region.

The scallop season in St. Joseph Bay in Gulf County will be July 25 through Sept. 10 and includes all waters in St. Joseph Bay and those west of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County, through the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County.

All other portions of the bay scallop harvest zone will be open from July 1 through Sept. 24. This includes all state waters from the Pasco-Hernando county line to the Suwannee River Alligator Pass Daybeacon 4 in Levy County, and from north and west of Rock Island near the mouth of the Fenholloway River in Taylor County through the westernmost point of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) staff worked with local community leaders on selecting these regional 2017 season dates.

At the December 2017 Commission meeting, staff will review public feedback on these changes and make a recommendation for future management. To submit your feedback on bay scallop regulations, visit MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments.

Bag and vessel limits throughout the entire bay scallop harvest zone are 2 gallons whole bay scallops in shell or 1 pint of bay scallop meat per person, with a maximum of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops in shell or 1/2 gallon bay scallop meat per vessel.

Scallops may be collected by hand or with a landing or dip net.

Scallops must be landed within the area that is open to harvest.

There is no commercial harvest allowed for bay scallops in Florida.

Be safe when diving for scallops. Stay within 300 feet of a properly displayed divers-down flag or buoy when scalloping in open water and within 100 feet of a properly displayed divers-down flag or buoy if on a river, inlet or navigation channel. Boat operators traveling within 300 feet of a divers-down flag or buoy in open water or 100 feet of one on a river, inlet or navigational channel must slow to idle speed.

Done for the day? Help FWC’s scallop researchers by completing an online survey at svy.mk/bayscallops. Harvesters can indicate where they harvest scallops, how many they collect and how long it takes to harvest them. Participants can email BayScallops@MyFWC.com to ask questions or send additional information.

Learn more about long-term trends in the open and closed scalloping areas by visiting MyFWC.com/Research and clicking on “Saltwater,” “Molluscs,” “Bay Scallops” and “Season.”

For more information on the season date changes for 2017, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and select “Commission Meetings,” then click on “2016” and “Agenda” under the November meeting.

For information on bay scallop regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Bay Scallops.”

“Scallop Princess” Kyndal Klaire Grambling shows off her first scallop from the opening day of a previous season off the coast of Dekle Beach. Kyndall Klaire was scalloping with Capt. Roy Taylor of Dekle Beach Fishing Charters.


*(Via MyFWC) FWC reminds scallopers to stay safe, recognize and use divers-down flags and buoys

With the opening of scallop seasons fast approaching, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) wants to remind everyone engaged in this fun outdoor activity to use a divers-down warning device whenever they are snorkeling or scuba diving while searching for these tasty treats.

The divers-down symbol is rectangular or square and red in color with a white diagonal stripe. A divers-down flag displayed on a boat must be at least 20 inches by 24 inches and displayed at a high point where it can be observed from 360 degrees around the vessel. A buoy may not be used or displayed from a vessel. A divers-down flag or buoy, displayed from the water, must be at least 12 inches by 12 inches. A flag must have a wire or other stiffener to hold it open and a buoy can be three- or four-sided.

All divers must prominently display a divers-down device in the area in which the diving occurs.

“Proper use and understanding of what a divers-down symbol means are critical,” said Capt. Tom Shipp of FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section. “It is meant to alert boaters to the presence of people under the water’s surface and to give them plenty of room.”

All vessels must make reasonable effort to stay at least 100 feet away from a divers-down device within a river, inlet or channel. In open waters, vessels must make reasonable effort to stay 300 feet away. For safety, divers should stay within those same distances of their displayed device. A vessel that approaches closer must be fully off plane and at idle speed.

“Divers share the responsibility of boating safety with the boat operators,” Shipp said. “Diving without the divers-down symbol displayed or using it for reasons other than to inform others of the presence of divers is unlawful.”

The divers-down device should only be displayed when divers are ready to enter the water or are in the water. When divers or snorkelers exit the water, it must be taken down.

More information on divers-down requirements is available online at MyFWC.com/Boating by clicking on “Boating Regulations.”

For more information on the scallop season date changes for 2017, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and select “Commission Meetings,” then click on “2016” and “Agenda” under the November meeting.

For information on bay scallop regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Bay Scallops.”