Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2021

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Marine Policy


Damian Brady

Second Committee Member

Dana Morse

Third Committee Member

Joshua Stoll


Aquaculture is the fastest growing food production sector in the world. In the Northwest Atlantic, interest in Sea Scallop (Placopecten magellanicus) (hereafter scallop) aquaculture has grown rapidly in the last decade. In the U.S., scallops support a ~$1 billion USD industry with nearly $500 million coming from imports. By comparison, the U.S. exports only ~$139 million USD of scallops annually. This substantial trade imbalance and strong domestic demand has created an opportunity for a farmed product to capture a share of the market. However, technical, regulatory, and, perhaps most importantly, economic challenges have stifled the growth of scallop aquaculture in the Northwest Atlantic. We performed semi-structured interviews (n = 7) with the majority of scallop farmers in Maine, USA to parameterize a scallop aquaculture bioeconomic model. To identify production bottlenecks and assess the influence of various biological and market variables on farm-scale success, we conducted financial simulations for farms of various sizes targeting either live "whole" scallops or the traditionally consumed shucked adductor muscle "meat". The end product (“whole” or “meat”) had a large influence on the profitability of farms. For example, farms selling > 200,000 whole scallops year-1 were profitable. However, all farms selling shucked meats generated negative returns. Labor made up the greatest portion of costs in all model simulations and increased linearly with farm size, representing a significant bottleneck. Farm value was most sensitive to changes in market price, time to market, and annual sales. Businesses selling whole scallops can potentially be successful, but regulatory or labor mechanization issues could hinder further expansion of the industry. Our analysis suggests four strategies to increase farmed scallop production in the Northwest Atlantic: (1) develop methods to mechanize low density net culture, (2) optimize net stocking densities, (3) build site selection tools that decrease time to market, and (4) invest in end-markets and biotoxin testing for whole scallops. Diversifying the shellfish aquaculture sector by increasing the viability of scallop aquaculture has the potential to play a key role in increasing the economic resilience of coastal communities.