Edgartown closes Cape Poge to scalloping; yield is down

Edgartown selectmen, on the unanimous recommendation of the town’s shellfish committee, voted to close Cape Poge to scalloping beginning tomorrow, January 9.

Several commercial fishermen attended the selectmen’s hearing, opposing the recommendation to close Cape Pogue and other Edgartown waters.

“It was a tough choice,” said shellfish constable Paul Bagnall. “There are a few adults left, but there’s a lot more seed. It’s a hard row to hoe in the wintertime, even in the best of years. On the other hand, people want to see the resource protected.”

Although the commercial season remains open in the outer harbor and Katama Bay scallops are not abundant.

Mr. Bagnall is still compiling figures for the season’s yield to date, but expects the final total will be down significantly.

“It wasn’t anywhere near the year before, which was about 5,000 bushels. We probably did about half that,” said Mr. Bagnall.

There are signs that the species is rebounding in new areas, according to Mr. Bagnall. Adult scallops were harvested this year in several Cape Cod towns, and in Buzzard’s Bay, where no scallops have been harvested for many years.

Also encouraging is an abundance of seed scallops, both in terms of future yield and improvements in water quality.

“I haven’t seen Cape Pogue have that many seed scallops in a good 10 years,” said Mr. Bagnall. “In terms of a regional picture, it’s good news. Scallops are finicky in what they like for water quality.”

He cautions that an abundance of seed is far short of a guarantee for higher yields next season. He does predict that the wholesale price will be lower next year, because supply is likely to increase.

“Isn’t that the curse of the fisherman? When the fish are in, the price is low.”