, Volume 8, Issue 2-3, pp 139-158

Strategies for enhancement of natural bay scallop, Argopecten irradians irradians, populations; A case study in the Niantic River estuary, Connecticut, USA

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Abstract

We investigated strategies to enhance populations of bay scallops,Argopecten irradians irradians (Lamarck, 1819), in a presumablyrecruitment-limited natural habitat. At present, the Niantic Riverestuary supports only a minor bay scallop population that is harvestedrecreationally. Three enhancement strategies were evaluated; (1)collection and redistribution of natural spatfall, (2) introduction andover-wintering of hatchery-reared stock into natural habitat to providenew spawning stock, and (3) over-wintering of hatchery-reared stock insuspension culture for creation of mobile spawner sanctuaries. Anassessment of natural bay scallop recruitment in the Niantic Riverconducted in 1997 indicated that few spat were found, they were widelydispersed within the river, and peak spawning occurred in late July1997. Direct re-seeding was evaluated as an enhancement measure byplanting hatchery-reared scallops (≌ 38 mm shell height) insmall-scale, 100-m2 plots at different times and densities.Time of planting and the inferred predation intensity were major factorsaffecting survival; whereas, planting density had no significant effect.Approximately 9,000 scallops (35–45 mm shell height), broadcastwithin an eelgrass bed in November 1997, had high over-winter survivaland underwent gametogenesis and spawning during 1998. Of 26,000 bayscallops (≌ 45 mm shell height) over-wintered in suspensionculture from 1998–1999, approximately 60–80%survived, and these scallops spawned in mobile sanctuaries, during thesummer of 1999. There is good potential for using aquacultural methodsfor enhancement of bay scallop populations when natural recruitment ispoor and habitat and environmental conditions are not limiting.