As this year’s first crop of bay scallops came in to Southold Fish Market Monday, the baymen agreed: this season could have been better.
“We actually thought it was going to be good,” said Charlie Manwaring, owner of the fish market, “but a lot of guys are coming in, many guys not [reaching] their limit.”
The bay scallop season kicked off Monday, with many bemoaning a lackluster start that didn’t match up to the success of years past.
Last season, scallopers pulled in 88,575 of meat, a strong showing comparable to the roughly 100,000 pounds of scallops harvested the year before.
This year’s prospects don’t seem as rosy, said Pete Clark, a baymen for the past 40 years who brought his share of scallops to the market.
“It’s not as good as last year,” Mr. Clark said “The scallops aren’t always in the same spots.”
Mr. Manwaring said the fish market pulled in about 85 bushels of scallops from local baymen on the morning of last season’s opening day. It was a shockingly strong year, he said.
But this year, the morning passed with the market pulling in only 25 bushels.
“If I see 80 bushels today I’ll be happy,” he said. “There’s going to be scallops all year, probably on and off, but it’s nothing like last year. It’s not going to be tons and tons and tons.”
In the past, Mr. Manwaring has sold local scallops to restaurants and markets up and down the East Coast. But due to this year’s apparently small harvest, most of the scallops will stay local, he said.
“Mother Nature does what she does,” he said. “Some years she produces. Others, she doesn’t.”
A poor start to the season didn’t dampen the spirits of bayman Fred Kettenbeil. He agreed the scallops aren’t coming in as they have in years past.
But he’s not solely interested in the money.
“It’s more of a social thing than anything,” he said. “I don’t mind working … I do this because I love it.”
“It’s like serenity,” Mr. Clark added. “It’s just so wonderful out there. You work a little harder.”