1. Pasco

Get ready for some finger pinching: 10-day scalloping season returns in July to Pasco County

TAILYR IRVINE   |   Times  Jason Crossley holds up his first scallop of the day last year near New Port Richey, during the first scalloping mini-season in Pasco County in 25 years.
TAILYR IRVINE | Times Jason Crossley holds up his first scallop of the day last year near New Port Richey, during the first scalloping mini-season in Pasco County in 25 years.
Published Jun. 28, 2019

Grab a snorkel and a pair of fins. Scalloping season is returning to Pasco County.

Last year's season came after the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approved the activity again following a 25-year pause. After determining that enough of the bay scallop population had returned, the state decided to allow scalloping in the area again, Fish and Wildlife spokesperson Amanda Nalley said.

Scalloping will take place this year from July 19 to 28.

Surveyors from the Florida Sea Grant estimate that 782 boats set out on Pasco County waters for the inaugural harvest last year, though that number includes only people who left from two public boat ramps in the county.

"It's peaceful, it's quiet, it's a family activity," Pasco County tourism director Adam Thomas said.

Pasco sits on the southern edge of the larger recreational scalloping area in Florida. The harvesting of bay scallops is popular in coastal communities across Florida, Nalley said, like in Steinhatchee or Crystal River.

The scallop population in Pasco County decreased from 2017 to 2018. The average number of scallops per 200 square meters was 13.2 in 2017 and 6.1 in 2018, according to Fish and Wildlife measurements. But that hasn't been a major concern for wildlife officials. It appears that scallops are on a low population cycle, Fish and Wildlife researcher Ryan Gandy said.

"FWC routinely observes scallop populations that bounce back from low numbers, provided environmental conditions improve," he said.

Scalloping's reintroduction has ignited what could be a new draw to Pasco County.

Florida's Sports Coast, Pasco County's tourism agency, is doubling down on efforts to promote the season. It plans to offer tours on the first day of the season and bring in journalists and so-called "travel influencers" to promote it, Thomas said.

A little over 50 percent of people who harvested scallops in Pasco County in 2018 were non-residents, according to a study by Florida Sea Grant and Fish and Wildlife.

The survey estimated that Pasco County's trial season created about $50,000 in economic impact. That included daily expenses, such as fuel and food, but not hotel stays, Hall-Scharf said.

By comparison, the Hernando County scalloping season created about $1.1 million of economic impact in 2017 during its near three-month season, according to surveys by Sea Grant and other state organizations. Pasco County's season had a low number because of bad weather during most of the 10 day season, Hall-Scharf said.

Thomas took his family out to harvest scallops last season. His 7-year-old and 5-year-old enjoy it so much that they ask him nearly every day when they can go out and scallop.

"It can't get here fast enough," he said.

His family launches at Nick's Park in Port Richey. From there, he said, it's about a 15-minute ride to where they can harvest scallops. The family will spend three to five hours on the water and try to go out earlier in the week to avoid the weekend rush.

Mark Dillingham, a charter fishing captain based in Port Richey, grew up in the area and remembers when scalloping took place in Pasco County before the ban.

Last year, he took groups of four people out during a few days of the season. This year, he plans to organize a group per day to scallop.

"By having it come back to Pasco, it's going to help with the economy," he said. "Bringing scallop season back gives everyone more things to do throughout the season."

Contact Sarah Verschoor at Follow @SarahVerschoor .


  1. More than 44 percent of people who searched on for the Tampa Bay area from June to December were outside the region, according to a report from Apartment List. Percentages in the “Top Three Sources” box represent the share of searches coming from outside the metro area. (Apartment List map) [Apartment List]
    The region trails only Denver, Baltimore and San Diego for the percentage of people from outside the area searching for apartments on Apartment List.
  2. The New Port Richey Community Redevelopment Agency agreed to a deal that will bring a Keiser University campus to the city's gateway. [New Port Richey]
    The city agreed to buy properties at U.S. 19 and Main Street. A developer will build a new Keiser University campus and possibly a hotel.
  3. Rooker Properties of Atlanta plans to build at least 400,000 square feet of industrial and office space at what is now county-owned  land on Old Pasco Road, Wesley Chapel. Pictured is Rooker's Spartan Ridge Logistics Center, a 273,000-square-foot, Class-A industrial building in Spartanburg, S.C. It was constructed in 2018 and the company said the buildings planned for the Pasco County site will closely resemble this. [Rooker Properties]
    Rick Narkiewicz is seeking tenants for the planned Rooker Properties spec buildings known as North Tampa 75 Business Center.
  4. In his years as a state lawmaker and legislative leader on education issues, John Legg, a charter school operator, pushed for better funding for charters. Now his charter school, Dayspring Academy in Pasco County, won't benefit from a new law that shares state capital funding with charters. Legg left the state Senate last year. [SCOTT KEELER   |   TIMES]

    Former lawmaker John Legg won’t rule out running against two-term incumbent Kurt Browning.
  5. This home in Colonial Hills neighborhood in west Pasco has been vacant for 10 years, neighbors said. A new Pasco County ordinance would require the owners of vacant and rental residences to register their properties with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. [C.T. BOWEN  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    A new ordinance is supposed to aid sheriff’s deputies and code-enforcement officers dealing with rental or vacant properties.
  6. Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley, middle, looks over an absentee ballot.
    A nonprofit is mailing millions of voter registration forms to Floridians this month in hopes of getting people on voter rolls in time for the 2020 election. Pasco’s supervisor of elections issued an...
  7. Members of the community march down Pine Hill Road from the Union Baptist Church to the African American Club of Pasco, as part of the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. event held Jan. 20. [MICHELE MILLER  |  Times]
    The African American Club of Pasco holds annual MLK march and gathering.
  8. Jaclyn Campbell, 23, left, braves the cold temperatures while walking with her colleague Tysjah Pitchford during their lunch break in downtown Tampa in December. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    Temperatures Tuesday reached the 30s for the first time since 2018. Wednesday will start there, too.
  9. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. [Tampa Bay Times]
    The motorcyclist pulled into the path of a Ford F-150 pickup truck, according to the according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
  10. Times
The family of Dania Vizzi of Odessa, is suing Pasco County over a disputed skeet-shooting range in Darby. Vizzi, above, is an Olympic hopeful and won a bronze medal at the 2019 Pan-American Games. [TIMES  |  (2017)]
    The Vizzi family sues Pasco County to maintain skeet shooting range over neighbors’ objections.