Salmon, crab and halibut aren’t the
only seafood delicacies pulled from Kodiak waters. There is also the elusive
and tasty weathervane scallop. Mary Donaldson spoke with a Kodiak resident who
participated in the fishery when it first began in Alaska and has this report.
Scallop fishing in Alaska began in 1967 in Kodiak
Island waters and resident Al Burch was a part of it from the very
beginning. He says he and a friend, Bob Moody, helped develop the fishery when Moody
lost crab pots off of his fishing vessel, the Venus. Since the waters were
shallow, he dove into the water to retrieve the pots, and that’s when he
discovered the abundance of scallops on the ocean floor, says Burch.
(Burch 1 :30s “…great big scallops.”)
After Moody’s discovery, Burch
later made a dredge that would fit his vessel, the Endeavor, an 84 foot, wooden
boat he brought up from California.
He says interest grew around town and that talks of starting up scallop
fisheries began. In the late 60’s, the state brought in a team to evaluate the numbers
of scallop present in Alaska’s
(Burch 3 :27s “…beds of scallops.”)
He says processors like Washington
Fish and Oyster, which is now Ocean Beauty, ran King Crab, Incorporated, and
they began marketing and selling the 20 to 30 thousand scallops from Kodiak
waters. Today, that is one third of the total guideline harvest levels for the
Kodiak area, which is only one of several scallop fisheries statewide.
Burch says that it’s been a
profitable business over the years, though the fleet size has changed.
(Burch 2 :25s “for those that are in it.”)
The fisheries have gone through
some highs and lows since its heyday. Today, the state manages the fishery with
regulations requiring 100% observer coverage, bans on automatic shucking
machines on vessels, limits the number of dredges and by catch allowed on a
vessel as well as a limit to crewmembers allowed on boat. The Alaska Department
of Fish and Game says annual catches in state average 800,000 pounds of shucked
weight, with an average annual value of approximately $1 million dollars. This
year’s fishery began July 1st, and will run through February 15th
in the Kodiak area. Today’s scallop fishery is limited entry, with about 10 boats
registered in state with a scallop limited license permit.
I’m Mary Donaldson.