nova fishing boat

Scallops are a species of shellfish that are loved by many. In New England, we can get Sea Scallops or Bay Scallops. Commercial fisherman work everyday to bring us the seafood and shellfish we love. We can look at the fishing vessels, the differences between types of shellfish, and look at quota to try and understand the day boats that fish scallops.

Day Boats
Day boats are smaller fishing vessels that harvest their shellfish or seafood close to shore. They don’t go too far off land, and have certain areas or zones in which they can fish. This is determined in their fishing license. Zoning the fishing boats helps us keep the fish population balanced and healthy for us to be able to continue fishing.



scallops on boat

Each fishing license allows for a quota, or the amount of fish allowed to be caught during a specific duration. Fisherman can sell quota once they have it, if they find themselves not using it. But the state of Massachusetts only allows a certain number of licenses to fish each year. This means once you have quota you can lease it and still make money without fishing.

Sea Scallops vs. Bay Scallops
Sea Scallops are generally much larger than Bay Scallops. This gives them, of course, a larger shell with a slightly different color. Sea scallops are caught in deeper waters, while Bay scallops are caught in shallower waters. Nantucket Bay Scallops are an extremely popular species. The New Bedford catch is primarily sea scallops.

scallops cracked open

Process and Equipment
To catch the scallops, fisherman use large drags that are attached to the back of the vessel. These take quite a bit of manpower to operate. When the drag is down, it’s dragging across the bottom of the ocean floor, grabbing anything in its path. The drag has rings sized and designed to grab onto the scallop shells. When the drag has been down long enough, the fisherman pull up the drag and ‘pick’ or collect everything that came up with the it. The majority will be scallops, but sometimes the fisherman find interesting fish and lobsters along with each tow. Once they pick out the unwanted fish and throw them back, the fisherman lower the drag back down again for the next tow. While waiting for each tow, the fisherman begin to shuck scallops right on board.

scallop drag on boat

As you can see, there’s much that goes into commercial fishing, be it day boats or longer trips. We have laws and rules in place to regulate the industry and our environment. This is to ensure that we aren’t harming the fish population with overconsumption and research.

scallop rings on drag

For over 65 years, the Zaffiro family of Channel Fish Processing (CFP) has provided the freshest, highest quality North Atlantic fish to wholesalers everywhere. Over the years, Channel has grown and developed from a processor of Cod and Haddock into a family run company that conducts business globally and provides a wide variety of fresh and frozen products. If you’re wondering which industries we serve, checkout our service areas here.