ELLSWORTH — Harvesters hoping for a shot at a new license to fish for scallops this winter have only two more days to enter their names into the Department of Marine Resources’ scallop license lotteries. The online license lotteries will be open until Friday, Nov. 8 at 4:30 p.m.
DMR established separate lotteries for scallop dragging and scallop dive licenses with the number of licenses available based on the number of licenses surrendered or not renewed after the 2018 season ended.
Based on licenses retired in 2018, six scallop drag licenses and four scallop dive licenses are available for the 2019-20 scallop season.
Two of the dive licenses will be awarded to applicants under the age of 30 and between the age of 18-30 and two will go to applicants 31 or older.
The winners of a new license to dive for scallops who want to fish in the water off southern Maine won’t have long to wait.
In Zone 1, the state’s waters between the New Hampshire border and eastern Penobscot Bay, the 60-day season for scallop divers starts next Thursday, Nov. 14. The 60-day season for draggers begins Dec. 9.
In Zone 2, the area between eastern Penobscot Bay and Cobscook Bay, a 70-day season for divers will start on Nov. 18. The 70-day season for draggers starts Dec. 2.
In Cobscook Bay, the 50-day season for draggers begins on Dec. 2. The 50-day season for divers begins on Dec. 5.
There are several eligibility criteria for entrants to either DMR license lottery.
An applicant must be a Maine resident at least 18 years old who now holds, or held in any year prior to 2019, any commercial fishing license issued by DMR and hasn’t had a license suspended within the past seven years.
According to the DMR website, this is the first year for the scallop dive lottery, applicants may only enter once. This is the second year that a scallop drag license lottery has been held, so entrants who took part in last year’s lottery will get two chances. First-time entrants get only one chance.
License hopefuls may enter either the scallop drag license lottery, the scallop dive license lottery or both.
Maine’s scallop fishery is lucrative, although landings have been up and down over the past few years. A strict, 10-year rotational management plan adopted by DMR has helped rebuild the stock, but landings, and landed value, are far from the peaks seen in the early 1990s before the fishery crashed.
According to DMR, as of mid-February, landings for the 2018 season totaled 563,363 pounds — that is “meat weight” not the weight of whole animals in the shell — worth about $5.94 million or about $10.54 per pound on average. The 2017 season saw landings of 802,791 pounds worth some $9.42 million, an average of $11.74 per pound, the highest total since 1993.
For harvesters, according to DMR, the average price for scallops topped out at $12.81 per pound in 2016.