PORT ST. JOE, Fla (WMBB) — Scalloping season began today in Franklin County, however, those in Gulf County will not see their scalloping season start until the middle of August, as part of an effort to increase the scallop population in the Gulf of Mexico.
The area recently suffered from the effects of a red tide, forcing the state to consider the overall health of the environment and number of scallops.
Officials met with the public to gauge opinions about the scallop season and related topics, and found an overall positive feeling about moving the season later in the summer.
“We’ve been going through a couple of different restoration processes with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) the last couple of years, since 2016, and this year, they did a couple of public workshops to see how the public reacted to having the later season,” said Adrianne Glass, a marketing associate with the Gulf County Tourist Development Council. “Most of us really just wanted to have a later season.”
Glass noted the busy month of July as a reason for the season’s move, as pushing the season later will allow for the economy to benefit from continued tourism and visitors.
As for the scallops, a later season will allow them more time to grow in size and mature before being harvested.
The focus on the health of the wildlife and its protection seems to be a common theme in Port St. Joe. This past weekend, the area held its fourth annual Forgotten Coast Sea Turtle Festival to spread knowledge and awareness about sea turtles in the Gulf during their prime nesting and hatching season.
A similar festival will be held about scallops, the Florida Scallop and Music Festival, to bring awareness of the local cuisine and natural resources.
“Scallop season means a lot to this community,” said Captain Lee Thompson, owner of Shallow Seas Charters. “It brings a lot of people from out of town and a lot of revenue to the area and to the county.”
The FWC will hold a Scallop Rodeo on August 3 in the Port St. Joe area for anyone interested in helping collect live scallops from Saint Joseph Bay. FWC states in the rodeo flyer that collecting the scallops before the harvesting season begins will aid in preserving the scallop population.