Scallops: Sustainability & Science at Sea

Scallops: Sustainability & Science at Sea

We’ve been in discussions on an exciting documentary project since February. But with two production days under our belt this week, it’s time to finally spill the beans. (Or shuck the scallop, as it were.) In collaboration with the Coonamessett Farm Foundation, we’re producing a documentary on a unique collaboration between scientists, fishermen and fisheries managers that’s transformed the Atlantic sea scallop industry into one of the most sustainable (and successful) fisheries in the world.

This project marks a significant milestone for us, a foray into long(er) form documentary that will allow us to cover a lot of ground— and ocean. This week we went behind the scenes in New Bedford, the #1 scallop port in the US. Later on in the month, we’ll be looking at how scallops are creating ripples o

DP Daniel Cojanu films the F/V Huntress as it departs New Bedford Harbor with a crew of SMAST researchers.
DP Daniel Cojanu films the F/V Huntress as it departs New Bedford Harbor with a crew of SMAST researchers.

f economic resurgence in fishing communities up and down the East Coast. It’s a welcome positive note in an otherwise dismal story of mismanaged resources and economic catastrophe!

We’ll also be looking at methods scientists have developed to monitor and enhance scallop populations, while reducing by-catch, specifically loggerhead sea turtles and yellowtail flounder. With funding from the scallop industry’s research set-aside program, environmental impacts are kept to a minimum, while providing consumers with sustainable seafood, and fishing communities with a reliable source of economic opportunity. Not to mention, scientists are getting a long-term picture of population trends and effects of scalloping on critical habitat for a number of marine species.

Scientists and students from UMass's School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) load the DropCam on board a fishing vessel in preparation for a video survey research cruise.
Scientists and students from UMass’s School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) load the DropCam on board a fishing vessel in preparation for a video survey research cruise.

Already, we’ve been blown away by the insights we’ve gotten into doing research on—and making a living in —the fishing business. We’re looking forward to exploring more, with a research cruise to tag sea turtles off New Jersey, a scalloping expedition to Long Island Sound, and interviews with scientists at SMAST, Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), NOAA Marine Fisheries Science Center, and the New England Marine Fisheries Council.