scallops FEATURE
scallops Steve Kirk (left), coastal restoration ecologist for The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts, and Eric Matzen (right), from the Woods Hole Oyster Company, stock a cage with scallops in Buzzards Bay in Bourne. © Lauren Owens

Stories in Massachusetts

Boosting Bay Scallops in Bourne

Project helps create a scallop spawner sanctuary

Once the outboard motor chugged to a standstill, all that the men aboard the workboat had to do was to enjoy the cool green morning—and get 7,500 adult bay scallops in the water.

A few hours—and a bit of sweat—later, the scallops were in the waters of Buzzards Bay in Bourne.

The Nature Conservancy’s first-ever scallop restoration project in Massachusetts, the work is supported in part by settlement funding to restore natural resources damaged by a 2003 oil spill near the bay’s entrance.

Eight years after the spill, natural resource agencies secured a $6 million settlement to restore wildlife, shoreline and aquatic resources and lost recreational uses in the bay. The Conservancy’s scallop work is among projects recently funded with the settlement money through a trustee council that includes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and state agencies from Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

“The goal of the scallop restoration work is to create a spawner sanctuary as an effective way of restoring sustainable bay scallop populations in Buzzards Bay,” says Conservancy Coastal Restoration Ecologist Steve Kirk, who’s leading the effort. “While scallops are filter feeders and can improve water quality, increasing the population will also support sustainable recreational harvest for residents of the commonwealth.”

A few months after the scallops were deployed, indications were positive, with evidence of spawning. In collaboration with the Town of Fairhaven, the Conservancy used additional settlement funds to restore a one-acre oyster bed in Nasketucket Bay in 2016. The work followed a similar oyster restoration project in 2015.