PORT ST. JOE, Fla. (WMBB)–Scallop season is a huge part of the Gulf County community, drawing in tourists and providing a fun recreational activity. But for the past few years, choosing dates for scallop season has been a struggle.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission held a public discussion Thursday to allow the community to share their input.
“It’s our thing, I mean it truly is. When I tell people it’s like an underwater Easter egg hunt they go ‘really, that sounds really fun’,” said David Warriner, a Gulf County resident.
Ever since the red tide in 2015, the scallop population has been hurting, forcing the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to adjust season dates.
“We know how important it is to the community to have a scallop season that’s valuable for them and we’ve been working for the past few years to kind of figure out what the best season for this community is,” said Krista Shipley, a Biological Administrator.
The Commission encouraged input from those who are affected by the dates.
“We prefer a later season and most everybody in the crowd was feeling that same way,” Warriner said.
Many locals say they would like to keep this years dates. Harvesting from mid-August to mid-September.
“People are pretty happy with that, they don’t really want it to go earlier than that but if we can add some days on the back end, they’d be happy with that too,” Shipley said.
Residents say tourism goes down during the late summer months, so having scallop season during that period of time could pull tourists back in.
“There business just dies down a little bit so having this extra fishery that allows them to bring people into the community later in the year is really beneficial to them,” Shipley said.
The Commission will take what they learned and consider the community’s perspective when setting the 2020 scallop season dates.