SOUTHOLD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The Peconic Bay scallop season is a bust.
Fishermen on Long Island’s North Fork tell CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan they’ve never seen a failed harvest like this one.
“Everybody that walks through our door says the same thing — ‘no Peconic Bay scallops? Why not?'” fishmonger Laura Riggins said.
At fish markets and restaurants where bay scallop fans drive miles to plunk down up to $30 a pound for the precious East End catch, bitter disappointment.
“It’s a big bust this year,” said Charlie Manwaring, owner of Southold Fish Market.
He calls it a devastating blow to the economy. Local bay scallops are shipped across the country and tourists plan week-long North Fork getaways to sample the nutty, sweet, tiny morsels — three times smaller than the sea scallops — from the bays and estuaries.
“You just can’t just eat one,” one woman said.
“We were actually eating the scallops raw as they were shucking them,” one man said.
“We were here last year. There might have been 40 shuckers here with scallops all over this whole table. It was awesome,” another man said.
While bay scallop season is measured in weeks — beginning the first Monday in November — all clams, oysters, mussels and sea scallops may be harvested throughout the year.
Bayman Tim Sweat says this time last year, he was swimming in scallops.
“I went out for 10 hours. I only had three-quarters of a basket,” he said.
“We’re trying to figure out what caused the kill-off,” Manwaring said.
Scientists from Stony Brook and Cornell say 15 years ago, brown tide wiped out the bay scallops, but they now think warming waters over the summer and lower oxygen levels are to blame.
“It’s really heartbreaking for somebody like myself that needs it,” Sweat said.
It’s hoped the recent spawning season produces results for next year.
“Mother Nature gives us the scallops and she takes it,” Manwaring said.
Until then, larger sea scallops may be in greater demand.
Last season, tens of thousands of pounds were hauled in. So far this month, fewer than 100 pounds.