Long Island fishermen are saying that it’s a challenging year for Peconic Bay scallops, with the first day’s harvest “less than half” of what it was last year, said manager Keith Reda at Braun Seafood Co. in Cutchogue. The season begins on the first Monday of November and runs through the end of March.
By late afternoon Monday, Reda hadn’t seen a Peconic Bay scallop yet. “They’re still out there, looking,” he said of the shop’s fisherman suppliers.
Found in shallow waters, bay scallops are smaller and often sweeter than sea scallops, which are harvested year-round from colder, deeper waters.
Bart Molin, co-owner of Gra-Bar Fresh Fish & Seafood, said the grim forecast may have to do with the temperature of the water.
“We had a pretty mild winter,” he said, which has led to warmer water temperatures. “So far,” he said of the scallops, “they just aren’t there.”
But Molin remains optimistic about the season. “Fishermen often cry the blues,” he said, citing past years when predictions were dire and, weeks later, the supply was more plentiful than anticipated. “Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that it’s a better season than they’re predicting,” he said.
The Seafood Shop in Wainscott was preparing on Monday to sell its first three bushels, the harvest from the first of the shop’s five fishing boats that left docks around sunrise. The Seafood Shop will sell bay scallops for about $29 a pound if the supply is slim and $25 if it’s plentiful — or as demand falls after the New Year and the water gets especially cold.
Last week, Gra-Bar started selling Nantucket Bay scallops — a season that started on Nov. 1. This year, the first harvest cost nearly $50 a pound, falling to $38 a pound by the end of last week. Depending on the Peconic harvest, “Nantucket fishermen will react to that,” Molin said. Unlike local fishermen, Nantucket Bay fisherman are finding plenty of bay scallops, he said.
What’s the difference between local bay scallops and those from Nantucket? “Local bay scallops are sweeter,” said Alex Fausto, manager of The Seafood Shop. He said his regular customers often eat them raw. He said the shop rarely stocks Nantucket Bay scallops.
Molin was more diplomatic. He said scallops harvested from both regions are “incredibly sweet and delicious” — and as for which ones are better, “it depends on where you’re from.”
Gra-Bar Fresh Fish & Seafood, 102 Bond St., Westbury, 516-876-0441, grabarfish.com
Braun Seafood, 30840 Main Rd., Cutchogue, 631-734-7770, braunseafood.com
The Seafood Shop, 356 Montauk Hwy., Wainscott, 631-537-0633, theseafoodshop.com