Iceland Scallop by Digby Dredge

North Shore, Quebec — Scallop Fishing Area 16F


Iceland Scallop


Apr 06 - Nov 29

Digby Dredge

Fish harvesters drag a tow bar attached to metal chain-link baskets along the seafloor to catch Icenlandic scallops. This dredge stirs up the scallops from the seabed, which then are scooped into the baskets. 

Harvesting Method

Digby Dredge

Known as the “Digby drag,” this rock dredge consists of a dozen metal chain-link baskets with a cumulative width of 16 feet (5 metres). It is attached to a tow bar by a cable that allows the dredge to be lowered and towed along the rocky bottom of scallop beds. The dredge is towed at low speed for about 20 minutes and then hauled up. The contents of the baskets are dumped onto a sorting deck fitted to the back of the vessel. Crew sort through the large rocks and pebbles to find scallops. The shellfish are shucked aboard the vessel and stored on ice in burlaps sacks. Unwanted species are returned to the ocean.

Digby Dredge

Scallop Fishing Area 16E on the North Shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence is one of 19 scallop fishing areas and sub-areas in Quebec. There are only nine fishing licences that permit vessels to harvest scallops in this area.

Conservation Measures

The scallop fishery is managed by effort control, which involves limits to size of mesh, size of scallops, days fishing, hours per day fished and number of vessels. Scallop dredges disturb habitat when dragged along the seabed, although impacts vary by sediment type. Undersized and unwanted species (bycatch) are also unintentionally caught. A number of measures address conservation in the fishery. These include:

  • a limit of nine licensed vessels in the fishing area
  • a limit of 277 days of fishing each year
  • restriction of fishing during daylight hours between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • a minimum ring size on dredge baskets of 95 mm to prevent the harvesting of immature scallops.
  • limitation to the width of the tow bar at 7.3 metres (24 feet).
  • seasonal and area closures to protect habitat.
  • coverage by independent at-sea observers equal to 10 percent of annual trips.
  • vessel monitoring system on vessels to track their positions via satellite.
  • fish harvester required to keep a daily logbook of estimated catch.

In this lobster fishing area, fish harvesters actively participate in scientific data collection and research such as:

  • a comprehensive data collection system on catches
  • scientific sampling of lobsters at sea
  • maintaining catch logbooks and scientific field notebooks

North Shore, Quebec


SeaChoice - Some Concerns

Ocean Wise - Not Recommended

Seafood Watch - Good Alternative


Apr 06 - Nov 29


The Department of Fisheries and Oceans manages this fishery through the Quebec Region.


For the most recent scallop stock status, check the Department of Fisheries and Ocean’s science advisory reports.

Quality and Handling

Scallops are all hand shucked as they are caught and the abductor muscle (scallop meat) is rinsed in salt water and transferred to a clean burlap sack that allows the meat to breath. They are then placed on ice to await being sold to the buyer at the end of the day or taken home by the fishermen who may then freeze them in one-pound bags to be sold locally or to restaurants.  


Food Info Iceland Scallop


  • Colour: opaque white to pale beige to creamy pink
  • Texture: very fleshy meat which is lean and firm in texture
  • Flavour: A sweet, mild taste
  • Perfect serve: Scallops are particularly popular as an appetizer, often wrapped in bacon and quickly grilled. To make the most of the distinctive sweet flavour of scallops, pan sear them quickly till just brown and slightly crusty on the outside and still tender in the middle. Serve with a light, not overpoweringly flavoured, sauce: lemon-butter or white wine and herb come to mind. Be careful not to overcook them as they toughen up easily.