A Guide to Scalloping in Nantucket: Catching the Island’s Bounty
When the leaves start to turn and the air grows crisp, Nantucket Island becomes a hotbed for scalloping, an autumnal tradition that has enchanted both locals and visitors for generations. Known for its pristine beaches, charming cottages, and cobblestone streets, Nantucket is also famous for its bay scallops, some of the sweetest and most delicious in the world.
When Can You Scallop in Nantucket?
The scalloping season in Nantucket usually kicks off in October and runs through March. The season’s beginning is a highly anticipated event, heralded with a ritualistic sense of excitement. Nantucket Island residents can scallop from October 1, 2023 until March 31 2024. Commercial season starts on November 1st 2023.
The Best Month for Scallops
Although the season spans several months, many experienced scallopers argue that November is the optimal time for scalloping. By November, scallops have grown large enough to make for a hearty meal, yet the weather is still moderate, making the scalloping experience more enjoyable. But locals, who Ack Natural talked to said go in late October before commercial season starts.
## Limits and Regulations
Both commercial and recreational scallopers must adhere to specific guidelines set forth by Nantucket’s Department of Natural Resources:
***You can only scallop from Wednesday to Sunday***
- **Licenses**: Anyone over the age of 14 must have a shellfish license (often called a shellfish pin). These can be purchased online or at the town clerk’s office and picked up at the police station at 4 Fairgrounds Road, Monday-Friday 8:00 am – 4:00 pm
- **Daily Limits**: For recreational scalloping, the daily limit is one bushel per person or two bushels per boat, whichever is less. Commercial limits are significantly higher but require a separate permit.
- **Equipment**: Recreational scallopers are typically allowed to use dip nets or hand rakes, while drag nets are reserved for commercial operations.
- **Size Restrictions**: Scallops must be at least 2.5 inches from hinge to bill and have an annual growth ring.
- **Open Areas**: Not all waters around Nantucket are open for scalloping. Maps of open areas can be obtained from the town’s Natural Resources Department.
Where to Find Scallops
Scallops love eelgrass, so look for eelgrass beds in Nantucket Harbor, Madaket Harbor, and Polpis Harbor. Always check the current maps, as areas open to scalloping can change from year to year based on environmental factors. Some local spots, like Monomoy and Shimmo, have been traditional favorites.
Where to Get a Shellfish Pin
Shellfish licenses, or pins, can be obtained from Nantucket’s Town Clerk office located 4 Fairgrounds Road, Monday-Friday 8:00 am – 4:00 pm. The office typically provides detailed maps and informational pamphlets along with your shellfish license. You can also purchase the licenses online through the town’s website.
Scalloping in Nantucket is more than just a weekend activity; it’s a cherished island tradition. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-timer, the thrill of the hunt and the taste of freshly-caught scallops make for an unforgettable experience. Just be sure to review the most current rules and regulations to ensure you’re scalloping legally and responsibly.
Of course, before you go, stop by Ack Natural. We are fully stocked with THC Seltzers, flower, pre rolls, concentrates, vape pens and more!