The governor and Florida Cabinet announced last week that the bay scallop season will begin three days early this year.
That will mean bay scallops may be harvested in permitted areas June 28, ahead of the normal July 1 opening.
June 28 is a Saturday.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said last week it would bring a proposal to its governing board to establish the Saturday prior to July 1 as the official opening of bay scallop season, unless July 1 is a Saturday.
In a statement, Gov. Rick Scott said opening the season early and on a weekend will create additional recreational opportunities for Florida residents and visitors while recognizing the importance of economic benefits to coastal communities where this activity occurs.
“I requested the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission open the season early this year to benefit our communities who rely on our fisheries” Scott said. “The bay scallop fishery is especially important to Florida’s Big Bend region and by opening the bay scallop season three days earlier, Floridians throughout this area will have more opportunities to enjoy our natural treasures and provide for their families.”
During season, bay scallops may be harvested in Gulf of Mexico state waters (shore to 9 nautical miles) from the Pasco-Hernando county line to the west bank of the Mexico Beach Canal.
St. Joseph Bay is one of the prime bay scallop harvesting areas in the state, with populations on the rebound the past two years.
The season closes Sept. 25.
Every scallop season since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April 2010 state officials have opened the season earlier, from more than two weeks to this year’s three days.
All other regulations, including bag and vessel limits remain the same.