Mixed reviews for LI scallop crop

Peconic Bay scallops at Alice's Fish Market at Peconic Bay scallops at Alice's Fish Market at the Greenport Seafood Dock, Greenport on the first day of scallop season. (Oct. 7, 2002) Photo Credit: Newsday, 2002 / Bill Davis

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To Ken Homan, who sells scallops at Braun Seafood in Cutchogue, the only problem with the crop is the lack of customers.

"I can't speak for everybody . . . plenty are being produced. We get 50 to 100 bags a day," he said. "The economy is suffering from the storm . . . it's hard moving them. So, we're freezing them."

But Homan's reports are starkly different from those from Southampton, where officials have almost given up on a successful scallop crop this year.

Scalloping is a fragile, multimillion-dollar industry. The outlook for the scallop season, which started this month and ends in March, can change from month to month.

"There's a lot of speculating . . . the scallops are good; they aren't good . . . in this case, it's important to let the data do the talking," said Christopher Gobler, a marine sciences professor at the Stony Brook University. "I heard this year, from at least a dozen people, over and over again [that] 'we checked at the beginning of the summer and they were dense. Then we went back before the season opened, and they were all dead.' "

But scalloping is usually done by one person in one boat, and North Fork baymen seem to know where to find the succulent shellfish. Some have been going out to the open waters of Gardiners Bay for harvests. Others find scallops in the certified areas of Peconic Bay.

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"Everything changes in every bay. The good baymen know where to go," Homan said.

Peconic Baykeeper's Kevin McAllister, whose not-for-profit is dedicated to maintaining the health of Peconic Bay and other estuary systems, said he, too, has heard from some baymen that the scallop crop, which looked so promising in June, is gone.

"Southampton baymen told me the spots they went out to reconnoiter before the season just weren't there any longer," McAllister said.

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But, he added, it is still too early to write off the season.

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