UF/IFAS Extension and Florida Sea Grant of Bay and Gulf Counties are partnering with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) on a scallop restoration project, and you can help. We are looking for volunteer scallop-sitters for St Joe and St Andrew Bays. Having private dock on the bay or access by private boat or kayak is the first step.
UF/IFAS Extension and Florida Sea Gant Agents along with FWC staff will provide you with training, juvenile scallops and a predator-exclusion cage. We ask that you either hang your cage with scallops from your dock or place your cage in the bay. Additionally, volunteers will be asked to clean their scallops once a month from August - December 2019.
Scallop Sitter Importance and Background:
This project is part of an effort that began in 2016 by FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute to restore bay scallops in Florida’s Panhandle. Bay scallops play a big role in the economies of many coastal Florida towns, including Port St. Joe, and this project is intended to increase scallop abundance and recreational fishing opportunities in the Florida Panhandle. The goal is to both increase depleted scallop populations in bays, as well as reintroduce scallops in other suitable areas from which scallops have disappeared. While volunteers participate for a period of 5 months, the scope of the project will last until 2026 and is funded by Deepwater Horizon oil spill funds.
This project will boost other restoration efforts already in place. Prior to the 2016 and 2017 scallop season, FWC staff enlisted the help of community members in Port St. Joe to collect scallops prior to the opening of the scallop season and place them in cages in a no-entry zone in St. Joseph Bay. In addition, each year FWC collects adult scallops from St. Joseph Bay and brings them to a hatchery, which provides juvenile scallops the following year. In 2017, FWC biologists had up to 50 cages holding both wild and hatchery-produced scallops in the no-entry zone in St. Joseph Bay.
The only requirements to participate in this program are the following:
• Live near St. Andrew or St. Joseph Bay from July - December
• Have access to the bay: either a private dock, boat, or kayak
• Be willing and able to care for and clean scallops once a month from August - December 2019
• Attend a scallop-restoration workshop session in July 2019
We hope that partnering with the community on this project will increase our chances of successfully restoring scallops to St. Joseph and St. Andrew Bays. If you are interested in volunteering learn more at https://myfwc.com/research/saltwater/mollusc/bay-scallops/restoration/sign-up/
If you wish to be a scallop sitter volunteer, you will need to attend one of the Scallop Restoration Workshops being held this month. If you cannot make either one of these workshops, we will have a webinar that you can view before picking up your scallops from a location that we will disclose later.
At the workshop, you will receive your cage, scallops, and cleaning supplies. We will also provide you with detailed information about our project and give a demonstration on how to clean and care for your scallops.
Please register for a session here:
St. Joe Scallop Sitter Volunteer Workshop 1
St. Joe Scallop Sitter Volunteer Workshop 2
St. Joe Scallop Sitter Volunteer Workshop 3