Sponge covered wild swimming scallops in a butterfly trawl

How We Fish

Our scallops are harvested using a butterfly trawl, which is a type of large wide-mouthed net invented by one of the founding members of this fishery. The net is dragged behind the boat while travelling at < 1 knot (1.8 km/hr). The trawl has steel runners that run along the bottom of the ocean which keeps the net off the ocean floor. As a result of the innovative net design and our slow speeds, impacts to the ocean floor, as well as by-catch of non-target species is minimized. Most mobile organisms are able to avoid the trawl due to the slow speeds. 

As the boat drives over the scallop beds, the vibrations from the boat and trawl cause the scallops to swim. The trawl follows shortly after the boat and captures the swimming scallops.  

A butterfly trawl full of wild swimming scallops
Freshly caught wild swimming scallops
The Butterfly trawl full of wild swimming scallops caught on the Lisa Jess

The scallops are placed into a slotted pipe for sorting.  Undersized scallops fall through the holes and into bins, while the larger scallops continue through to the end.  Undersized scallops are weighed and returned to their original bed.  

Sponge and barnacles grow on the shells of the scallops.  After the scallops are sorted,  they are placed in a washer that tumbles the scallops.  The action of shells rubbing together removes sponge and small barnacles from the shell.

Joe Collier pouring scallops in the mechanical sorter to sort out undersized swmming scallops
The mechanical washer used to wash sponge off swimming scallops
Legal sized swimming scallops exiting the mechanical sorter
View inside the mechanical washer showing water spraying over the swimming scallops

After being washed, the scallops are hand sorted.  This allows us to find any undersized scallops that may have slipped through the sorter.  We also separate any scallops that have residual sponge and barnacles on them. The residual sponge and barnacles are removed by hand.  

The scallops are placed in 10 or 20 lb mesh bags and flushed so they spit out any sand they have inside their shells.  They are flash frozen at sea and glazed with seawater.  They are delivered to a certified processing plant for packaging and labelling, and then stored in specialized cold storage until they are sold. 

Joel's parents and uncle hand cleaning the swimming scallop shells
20 lbs mesh bag of wild swimming scallops

The swimming scallop fishery is environmentally sustainable for a variety of reasons.  As previously mentioned, the trawl design minimizes both by-catch and impacts to the ocean floor.  The scallop quota is biologically based and is derived from biomass surveys conducted every two years.  The quota provided to the fleet is only 4% of the biomass of scallops available.  Further, survival rates of under sized biomass has been determined to be within the 97-98%.  You can learn more about the fishery and its status as sustainable in the report by Seafood Watch.