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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 714:45-56 (2023)  -  DOI:

Collapse of the New York Bay scallop fishery despite sustained larval and juvenile recruitment

Stephen T. Tettelbach1,*, Raymond E. Czaja Jr.2, Harrison Tobi1, Scott W. T. Hughes1, Bradley J. Peterson2, Stephen M. Heck2, Jessica MacGregor2, Flynn DeLany2, Brittney J. Scannell2, Emmanuelle Pales Espinosa2, Bassem Allam2

1Marine Program, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, Southold, NY 11971, USA
2School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Mass mortality events, due to a variety of natural and anthropogenic causes, usually result in population (and associated fishery) crashes. Recovery from such events may not occur for many years, if at all. We have witnessed a mass die-off of adult (1+ yr) bay scallops Argopecten irradians irradians in the Peconic Bays, New York, USA, from 2019-2022, with declines in population density from spring to fall of 90-99%. Similar declines in commercial landings have occurred since 2018, with severe economic consequences for fishermen. Observed mortality levels are well above those seen prior to 2019. However, since die-offs of adult scallops have been occurring after the first seasonal spawning cycle, larval and benthic juvenile (0+ yr) recruitment have remained robust through 2021. Nevertheless, with lower numbers of adults surviving to spawn in September-October, resulting in fewer fall recruits, potential buffering of marked annual fluctuations in abundance is now less likely for this short-lived species. Peconic bay scallops are again in a precarious state as these recurring die-offs, likely driven by changing environmental conditions, present further challenges to the persistence of robust populations and the likelihood of successful restoration efforts.

KEY WORDS: Mass mortality · Fishery collapse · Scallop · Argopecten · Recruitment · Restoration · Environmental change

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Cite this article as: Tettelbach ST, Czaja RE Jr, Tobi H, Hughes SWT and others (2023) Collapse of the New York Bay scallop fishery despite sustained larval and juvenile recruitment. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 714:45-56.

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