Maine fishermen expect record prices for scallops

By Clarke Canfield

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 28 2011 1:46 a.m. MST

The U.S. scallop market has been strong in recent years, with the per-pound price that fishermen received rising 28 percent from 2009 to 2010 to $7.92 a pound.

With Japanese scallop exports way down after last March's tsunami and nuclear disaster, supplies remain tight and prices will likely stay high, Temple said. Although there's little, if any, health threat from Japanese scallops, buyers don't want to pay high prices for scallops that the public is wary of, he said.

"Japan used to send hundreds of loads of product over here, and it's tough to sell it now," Temple said.

The higher prices and rebounding scallop populations are good news for Maine fishermen, Ackley said. But he's concerned those factors could also result in more fishing that would send stocks plummeting again.

Maine sells 800 scallop fishing licenses a year, but last year, only 234 fishermen actually caught scallops. If the population and price are good enough, more could head out this year.

"I think the effort will be more this year than it's been for four or five years," Ackley said. "And I believe next year there will be even more effort."

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