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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Scallop commercial fishing

​A good price and demand are maintained for scallop meat in local and international markets.

Scallop stocks can be highly variable depending on environmental factors such as the strength of the Leeuwin Current, a warm current that flows south along the coast of Western Australia.

As part of our role in fishery management, we work closely with scallop fishers to monitor recruitment (entry of juveniles into the overall scallop population) and other factors, so we can predict where and when to catch scallops.

Size and condition of the meat is essential in obtaining high market value for scallop meat. As meat size and condition vary significantly through the year, these factors influence selection of appropriate seasonal opening dates.

The two main fisheries are usually the Shark Bay Scallop Managed Fishery and the Abrolhos Islands and Mid West Trawl Managed Fishery (AIMWTMF), with smaller fisheries to the south of WA (east of Rottnest Island and in Geographe Bay, and off the south coast).

In Shark Bay there is a dedicated scallop fleet and also prawn trawlers that are licensed to take both prawns and scallops. Scallop boats can take 70 per cent of the annual catch while prawn boats can take the remainder. In the other fisheries, boats are either dedicated scallop boats or take scallops as part of a multi-species fishery.

However, in 2014 no commercial fishing was carried out for scallops in the Shark Bay fishery or the AIMWTMF, due to low abundance of scallops. 

Also in 2014, no scallops were taken by the South West Trawl Managed Fishery (SWTMF). This multi-species fishery includes two of WA’s smaller scallop fishing grounds. In 2014 it was a two-boat fishery but early in the year one vessel’s licence was given up as part of the Voluntary Fishery Adjustment Scheme. The owners of the other vessel chose not to fish due to poor scallop recruitment. 

Commercial scallop catch 2014 

Fishery
Catch
Commercial value
South Coast Trawl Fishery
437 tonnes
$3 million​

Marketing

The desirable ‘meat’ of the scallop is the animal’s adductor muscle. Processing scallops involves ‘shucking’ (removing the adductor muscle from the shell) and trimming back to the white meat by removing the white (male) or coral-coloured (female) roe sac.

Scallops are processed at sea and landed as high-quality frozen meats. Small quantities of scallops may be left ‘roe-on’ or half shell (when meat is still attached to one valve) to supply the gourmet seafood market.

Nearly all the scallop catch is exported to Asia, via the Hong Kong markets. Some scallops are sold on the local and Australian markets, but are usually considered a luxury item.​

Last modified: 11/03/2016 12:07 PM

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