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King scallop in Northern Ireland waters, scallop dredge


Pecten maxumus

Content last updated
2nd Oct 2017

King Scallop, Irish Sea

Northern Ireland fisheries management


Scallops (Pecten maximus) are filter-feeding bivalve molluscs that prefer 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 (Brand, 1991). Their asymmetrical shells – the right valve is convex – allow them to nestle securely in to softer sediments as they create a recess for their cup-shaped shells. They lie stationary and slightly open on the seabed, filtering the water that passes over their gills. The animals can swim using water jets ejected around the hinge of the shell and use this unusual movement as an ‘escape’ strategy. However after an initial phase in the plankton adult scallops are considered to be relatively sedentary (Marshall and Wilson, 2009).

Scallops are hermaphrodites (i.e. both male and female) and can become fully mature at about 3 years old (at least 60mm to 90mm in shell length). 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. It is more common for them to achieve 10-11 years of age in exploited populations. 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.

Stock Status

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King scallop stocks in the Irish Sea have been has been scored as moderate risk. This is because king scallops are moderately vulnerable to fishing exploitation (www.sealifebase.org), and stock status is largely unknown.

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The management of king scallop stocks in Northern Ireland waters has been scored a moderate risk. Management is currently through gear restrictions and spatial closures and is currently not based on a formal stock assessment.

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The bycatch risk for this fishery has been assessed as very high risk. This is because of the potential of the gear to harvest significant bycatch and associated damage. It is known that many species are affected, but not retained, by the gear, and it is the juveniles of species that are often present in the dredge-belly.

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The seabed effects of the fishery are scored a high risk. The gear has the potential to cause significant damage to benthic habitats, however vulnerable areas are protected in order to keep damage to vulnerable habitats to a minimum. In Northern Ireland there are currently 5 areas closed to scallop dredging.

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Type Current Risk Status Outlook Reason


Moderate Stable

Stock assumed to be stable, though a lot of uncertainty due to lack of information.


Moderate Stable

Management regime is stable, though current control measures may not be enough to avoid localised depletion of grounds.


Very high Improving

Policy commitments to limit discards, and technical improvements to gear may reduce this risk over the longer-term.


High Stable/ improving

Spatial management will protect habitats vulnerable to scallop dredging.

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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