Isle of Man scallops on the way to being fished sustainably

The Guardian reports, 27th June 2013: “Locals in the pretty seaside village of Port Erin on the Isle of Man will be celebrating. Their annual Queenie festival is taking place to promote the queen scallop that thrives in their waters. With a shell that can grow up to 9cm, the species, aequipecten opercularis, provides a sweet button of flesh roughly a quarter of the size of the more widely celebrated king scallop.

Isle of Man queen scallops

Isle of Man queen scallops: trawled, not dredged.

The queen scallop is found as far south as the Canary Islands and north as the Faroes, but it is most abundant in the sea around the Isle of Man, thanks to the Manx government’s progressive approach to conservation: setting aside protected areas for stocks to breed and imposing restrictions on the fishing season.

“They have got even more to shout about this year. This season is the first that queenies – caught with nets within territorial waters (12 miles around its coastline) – can claim protected designation of origin (PDO) status. The PDO was , awarded by the EU last November. This is now the only seafood product in the British Isles recognised as being traditionally produced, prepared and processed in its entirety, within a specific region, to acquire unique properties. The method of otter net trawling used by fishermen gained Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for sustainability in 2011, the first scallop fishery in western Europe to do so.

Scallops are more commonly dredged, which causes damage to the ocean bed. With king scallops, which spend most of their lives under the seabed, the only other option is hand diving, which is costly and doesn’t deliver high volumes. But with queen scallops there is an alternative. They are active swimmers, leaving the seabed to feed in the summer. So from June to October, fishermen, banned from dredging, trawl for them instead within 12 miles around the island’s coastline. (Today the Isle of Man has 28 boats that net queen scallops and only one that dredges for them outside of Manx territorial waters.)

Dredged queen scallops fetch the same price as sustainably caught, and although they require more rinsing than those that have been trawled, there is little discernible difference in quality. “The trawled queenies actually cost less to land when you take into consideration fuel costs connected to dragging around heavy dredging gear,” explains Tim Croft of Island Fisheries, which supplies queen scallops to London restaurants such as Hix and Hawksmoor and is a co-founder of the Queenie Festival. “MSC has given us more credibility and public awareness of the product, but it hasn’t necessarily increased sales or the price we can fetch.”

Tim Croft accepts that the situation isn’t perfect. “The market demands queen scallops in the winter when they can only be dredged. The bigger issue is to find a commercially viable way of fishing for king scallops that doesn’t involve dredging. There is a double standard at work, but at least there now is a standard that points out that we have a sustainable fishery.”

Source: The Guardian, 27th June 2013. For the full text, visit

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