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Scientist learns population size of scallops affects fertilization success

“When I was deciding on a Ph.D. project to pursue, I chose to work on a species that is commercially important and relevant to people’s daily life,” says Skylar Bayer, who is based at the University of Maine Darling Marine Center in Walpole. “Giant sea scallops in Maine seemed extraordinarily relevant.” In 2015, Maine fishermen brought in 452,672 pounds of scallop meat valued at $12.70 per pound -- the highest in years. But scallops haven’t always done well in Maine and beyond. In the 1990s, after huge reductions in multiple fishery landings, including giant sea scallops, NOAA regulators instituted large fishing closures to try to bolster groundfish stocks. After four years, scallop stocks had increased 14 times what they were prior to the closure. Seeking a similar success story, Maine followed suit in 2009 and instituted a three-year scallop fishing closure. It’s theorized that fishing closures work because the lack of fishing activity over time allows a population of animals in an area to grow in size and reproduce. For many marine organisms, Bayer says proximity is required to successfully reproduce. And while it’s a great theory, Bayer says it can be tough to demonstrate that’s why a closure is successful.

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