In British Columbia, the primary species of scallop farmed is a Japanese/weathervane hybrid scallop (Patinopecten caurinus x yessoensis) known as the Pacific or Qualicum scallop. In Eastern Canada, the giant or sea scallop (Placopecten magellanicus) and the Northern Bay Scallop (Argopecten irradians irradians) are the primary species farmed.
Where they’re farmed…
Canadian production of farmed scallops occurs in British Columbia, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Quebec. In 2006, British Columbia produced 76% of Canada’s scallops based on reported volumes (Statistics Canada).
How they’re farmed…
The production cycle on a Canadian scallop farm begins with the collection/production of scallop larvae. On Canada’s Atlantic coast, larvae are collected from adults spawning in the wild – as well as from hatchery broodstock. In British Columbia, all scallop larvae come from hatchery broodstock.
As the larvae settle and become juvenile scallops, they begin to develop into mature scallops; they are transferred to a fine mesh bag or tray – which is then attached to a secured flotation device and suspended in the ocean.
When the scallops are large enough to begin the final grow-out phase of production, some Canadian farmers ‘seed’ the scallops on the ocean floor (bottom culture). Other farmers transfer their scallops to larger mesh bags or trays – and re-suspend them from secured flotation devices (suspension culture). Scallops grown in suspension systems take six months to three years to reach market size depending on the final product - whereas bottom grown scallops require a further two to three years.
What they eat…
Scallops are filter feeders: they obtain all their required nutrients by drawing sea water through their gills and filtering out naturally occurring tiny plants and animals called plankton. Scallop farmers ensure that the mesh size of the scallop rearing bags is large enough to ensure good flow-through of nutrient rich sea water. As a result, scallop farmers do not need to feed their stock. They rely solely on the provision of high quality, natural food from the environment.
Why they’re environmentally sustainable…
Scallop farming is, by definition, green and sustainable. Scallops cannot tolerate the discharge of sewage or other toxins; the presence of scallop farming, therefore, often results in increased awareness and monitoring of coastal waters.
In addition to being important modulators of nutrient cycles in ecological systems, farmed scallops help to reduce greenhouse gases by removing carbon dioxide from the ocean for shell formation.
Scallop farming is endorsed by environmental groups such as the Audubon Society, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch and Eco-Fish.
Did you know…
Scallops have the ability to "swim" short distances by rapidly snapping their shells. This ability develops an oversized muscle referred to as the adductor, the main edible portion of the scallop.
British Columbia Shellfish Growers Association: bcsga.ca
Island Scallops Ltd: www.islandscallops.com
Kyuquot SEAfoods Ltd: www.pacificsea-lab.com
PecNord Ltée: www.pec-nord.com
Aquaculture Association of Canada: www.aquacultureassociation.ca
Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia: www.aansonline.ca