Fans of local bay scallops are in luck; commercial fishermen, not so much. An abundance of fresh scallops on the market, combined with diminished interest in the product off-Island, has dropped the price of the shellfish.
Local fishmarkets said Island bay scallops were selling for $15 a pound Friday, down from as high as $20 earlier this year.
Yesterday afternoon Louis Larsen of the Net Result fish market in Vineyard Haven said he was having a hard time moving product to the mainland, where most of the Vineyard harvest goes. “I told them [commercial scallopers] to take Friday off,” Mr. Larsen said. “I feel bad for them,” he said. “I have 800 pounds going to Boston [Friday] and I only have a home for 175 pounds,” he said.
Mr. Larsen said the problem isn’t the result of a glut on the market so much as the fact that there are plenty of scallops already available.
“It is the economy. Bay scallops aren’t such a big deal now,” he said.
Sea Scallops, a cheaper product, are available year-round now, said Mr. Larsen. “Now the restaurants can have sea scallops year round. Why compete with such a high item?”
Changes in the New York market — typically the biggest buyer of bay scallops from the Vineyard — are also playing a role. “In New York there are still restaurants out of business [due to Hurricane Sandy],” he said. “Plus, New York is getting their own bay scallops. There are two suppliers getting Long Island scallops. They are paying the fishermen $8 a pound and selling it for $10. We have to compete with that."
Dan Larsen, who runs Edgartown Seafood, said he currently is selling bay scallops at $15 a pound. “This is the right time for buying bay scallops” on-Island, he said. Mr. Larsen doesn’t ship his product to the mainland and tries to keep it all moving through the Vineyard community. “When a couple of fish markets on the Cape want them, I will put it on the Patriot Too,” Mr. Larsen said. “I am trying to keep it to the local market.”
Edgartown deputy shellfish constable Warren Gaines said that despite the low demand there were still 25 fishermen going out Friday morning. “Some didn’t know where they were going to sell,” he said. Many will keep it local, “but there are still at least two buyers,” Mr. Gaines said.
“We are all waiting. We’ll wait and see what the market does next week,” he said. “It is usually slow right after Thanksgiving. We’ll see if that stuff in New York is still coming in.”