GULF COUNTY, FL — (WTVY) The Gulf County bay scallop season will soon open. It will run from September 23rd until October 9th. Thanks to a naturally occurring algae bloom, it seemed like this day would never arrive.
After the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission received two clean tests of the bay they were prepared to open the season. The season was originally scheduled to open July 25th and close September 10th.
FWC officials told us the season opening includes all state waters (shore to 9 nautical miles) from the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County through the westernmost point of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County.
There is a daily bag limit of two gallons of whole bay scallops in shell or one pint of bay scallop meat per person, with a maximum of ten gallons of whole bay scallops in shell or a half gallon of bay scallop meat per vessel.
FWC officials say the scallop population is still recovering from a 2015 red tide. Restoration efforts are underway in the southeastern area of the bay. The recent algae bloom is not expected to impact the scallop population.
Something important to remember is if you do not have a Florida saltwater fishing license then you need to get one in order to keep the scallops you catch while you’re out scalloping. If you go out with a boat captain then you don’t need to worry about getting that license.
Some locals say they’re excited to hit the bay, others are happy tourism now won’t take a hit.
“We have a group of friends and we go out on the boat and we absolutely love to do it but even more than that we want to see our visitors coming to town and eating in our restaurants and enjoying our beautiful bay,” said Kristen Gerspacher, a Port St. Joe resident.
“A lot of people come down here just for scalloping so I’m glad to see them lift the regulations off of it and reopen it. It’s a fun entertainment for families to get out and enjoy the scallops,” said Michael Sheridan, another Port St. Joe resident.
The scallop season will wrap up when the Florida Scallop and Music Festival kicks off.
“I’m so excited that they decided to open the scallop season during the scallop festival, it really adds to the excitement and entertainment factor of the festival,” said Lianna Sagins, the festival’s coordinator.
The Florida Scallop and Music Festival is October 6-7.