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King Scallop, ICES Division VIa, diving


Pecten maxumus

Content last updated
28th Mar 2017

King Scallop, ICES Division VIa



King scallops (Pecten maximus, here after referred to as ‘scallop’) are filter-feeding bivalve molluscs that are associated with mixed sediments consisting of muddy sand, sandy gravel or gravel, possibly interspersed with small stones, rocks, boulders and low-lying reef from extreme low-water down to 100m+. Most individuals are found between 20-70m and, being highly-adapted filter feeders, they prefer moderately strong tidal flows and reduced exposure to strong wave action. They feed on suspended phytoplankton, algae and other micro-organisms that arrive through the water column (Duncan et al., 2016).

Spawning occurs in the warmer months, from April to September. Specimens up to 210mm shell length have been recorded, but become commercially viable at around 100mm – 160mm shell length. Growth rates vary depending on depth, season and bottom-type but they have been seen to take between three and six years to reach 110mm in length. Specimens can be long-lived, with some being recorded over 20 years of age. 4-6 year olds are the most abundant year class in exploited populations (Minchin, 2003). Scallops occur widely around the waters of the North West Atlantic, from along the European Atlantic coast from Northern Norway to the Azores, Canary Islands and Madeira. They are common in the waters around Scotland, being found at depths up to 100+m in more sheltered sea loughs.

King scallops are mainly targeted by dredgers, however, dive-caught scallops account for 5% of the total landings in Scotland, and this fishery involves around 40-50 full time divers that are mainly located in the west Coast of Scotland and in Orkney (Cappel et al., 2013). Scallops are the second most valuable shellfish in Scotland after Nephrops with landings fluctuating between 9000 and 10000 tonnes per annum in the last decade (Cappel et al., 2013).



Cappell, R., Robinson, M., Gascoigne, J. and Nimmo, F. 2013. A review of the Scottish Scallop Fishery. Poseidon report to Marine Scotland. 82 pp.

Duncan, P., Brand, A., Strand, O, Foucher, E. 2016. Chapter 19: The European scallop fisheries for Pecten maximus, Aequipecten opercularis, Chlamys islandica and Mimachlamys varia. Chapter 19. Scallops: Biology, Ecology, Aquaculture, and Fisheries. 3rd Edition Shumway, S. and Parsons, J.

Minchin, D., (2003). Introductions: some biological and ecological characteristics of scallops. Aquatic Living Resources, 51, 509-580.

Stock Status

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King scallops in ICES Division VIa has been scored as moderate risk. This is because population trends are unknown or there are signs of decline in recent years. However, the species is assigned a low to moderate vulnerability score in SealifeBase (Palomares and Pauly, 2016).

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The management of Scallop stocks in ICES Areas VIa has been scored as moderate risk. The fishery extends over three ‘assessment areas’, with some areas performing better for management than others.

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The king scallop dive fishery scored as very low risk for bycatch. The fishery is very selective, with divers gathering king scallops by hand.

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The king scallop dive fishery in this Division has been scored as very low risk. Obviously low risk, this is for divers only. There is minimal damage to habitat by diving activities.

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Type Current Risk Status Outlook Reason


Moderate Stable/ Improving

Not enough information on the stocks and about population structure and connectivity of king scallops. Increased minimum landing size and dredging restrictions might improve the status of the stock.


Moderate Improving

Research into population structure and connectivity will improve stock assessments


Very low Stable

Hand gathered scallops achieve greater prices than dredged ones.


Very low Stable

Minimal damage to habitat during diving activities.

Nutritional Information

69 (kcal)
0.5 (g)
0.1 (g)
0 (g)
1 (g)

*per 100 g

Nutrition information per 100g raw product

Rich in Omega-3 | Protein | Vitamin B12 | Phosphorus

Good Source Of Selenium

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