Scallops

Scallops

Rock scallop, © Amadeo Bachar

At a glance

Eco-rating Mercury Omega-3s
+-Weathervane scallop
Best
Low

MORE ABOUT WEATHERVANE SCALLOP

Also called a Pacific sea scallop, the weathervane scallop inhabits the Pacific from Alaska to Oregon. It grows up to 9 inches (23 cm) in diameter.

Commercial Sources

Weathervane scallops are found in the eastern Pacific, from Alaska to Oregon.

The main source of weathervane scallops is the United States.

Capture Methods

Weathervane scallops come from coastal fisheries, not shellfish farms. They are primarily harvested with dredges.

+-Bay scallops (farmed)
Best
Low

MORE ABOUT BAY SCALLOPS (FARMED)

The bay scallop is found in the Atlantic ocean, where it ranges from New England to the southern states. In the 1930s, the bay scallop was nearly wiped out when eelgrass, a necessary part of its habitat, was hit by blight; even though eelgrass has recovered, the scallop has not fully recovered, in part because of overfishing.

Commercial Sources

Bay scallops are native to the western North Atlantic, from Cape Cod in Massachusetts to the Gulf of Mexico. They have been introduced into China.

The main source of bay scallops is China, although a small amount of premium bay scallops still come from New England.

Capture Methods

Most bay scallops come from China, where they are farm raised on suspension nets. There is a small coastal fishery in the Northeast U.S., where they are primarily harvested with dredges. Additional types of fishing gear include rakes and dip nets. They are also handpicked.

+-Sea scallops (mid-Atlantic)
OK
Low

MORE ABOUT SEA SCALLOPS (MID-ATLANTIC)

Along with the Atlantic bay scallop, the sea scallop is popular with diners. The Atlantic sea scallop is the main scallop harvested in the United States. This species can reach 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter.

Commercial Sources

Sea scallops are found in the western North Atlantic, from Newfoundland to North Carolina. Above Cape Cod, they are scattered in shallower water in comparison to their southern range.

The main sources of sea scallops are the United States and Canada.

Capture Methods

Sea scallops come from coastal fisheries, not shellfish farms. They are primarily harvested with dredges and otter trawls. Additional types of fishing gear include pots, traps and gillnets.

+-Sea scallops (U.S., Canada)
OK
Low

MORE ABOUT SEA SCALLOPS (U.S., CANADA)

Along with the Atlantic bay scallop, the sea scallop is popular with diners. The Atlantic sea scallop is the main scallop harvested in the United States. This species can reach 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter.

Commercial Sources

Sea scallops are found in the western North Atlantic, from Newfoundland to North Carolina. Above Cape Cod, they are scattered in shallower water in comparison to their southern range.

The main sources of sea scallops are the United States and Canada.

Capture Methods

Sea scallops come from coastal fisheries, not shellfish farms. They are primarily harvested with dredges and otter trawls. Additional types of fishing gear include pots, traps and gillnets.

+-Queen scallop
Unrated
Low

MORE ABOUT QUEEN SCALLOP

The queen scallop is small, with a pale brown shell. It occurs from Norway to Canary Islands and in the western Mediterranean.

Commercial Sources

Queen scallops are found in the eastern Atlantic, from Norway to Cape Verde, including the Azores, the Canary Islands and the Mediterranean Sea.

Capture Methods

Queen scallops come from coastal fisheries, not shellfish farms. They are primarily harvested with dredges.

+-Spiny scallop
Unrated
Low

MORE ABOUT SPINY SCALLOP

The Spiny scallop, also called the singing scallop, often comes with a sea sponge that makes its home on the scallop's rough outer surface. The sponge helps camouflage the scallop from predators, and in turn the scallop helps protect the sponge.

Commercial Sources

Spiny scallops are found in the northeastern Pacific, around Puget Sound in Washington.

Capture Methods

Spiny scallops come from coastal fisheries, not shellfish farms. They are primarily harvested with dredges.

+-Atlantic calico scallops
Unrated
Low

MORE ABOUT ATLANTIC CALICO SCALLOPS

The tiny Atlantic calico scallop is sometimes sold as bay scallops on the West Coast. Its shell is speckled brown and white, hence its name. The calico scallop is found in the Gulf of Mexico, along the East coast of Florida and around Central and South America.

Commercial Sources

The main source of Atlantic calico scallops has been the United States, but the stocks have collapsed in recent years.

Capture Methods

Atlantic calico scallops come from coastal fisheries, not shellfish farms. They are primarily harvested with dredges and bottom trawls.

+-Common Japanese scallops
Unrated
Low

MORE ABOUT COMMON JAPANESE SCALLOPS

The Japanese scallop, or yesso scallop, quickly reaches full growth, up to 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter, within a year. In Japan it is both wild and farmed. Japanese scallops are the second most commonly farmed shellfish in the world and are common throughout Asia.

Commercial Sources

Common Japanese scallops are found in East Asia.

The main sources of Japanese scallops are China and Japan. Scallops sold in the U.S. market are primarily from China.

Capture Methods

Common Japanese scallops come from coastal fisheries and shellfish farms. Wild scallops are primarily harvested with dredges. Farmed scallops are grown with suspended systems and in bottom cultures.

Note: Japanese scallops in the market are primarily farmed scallops.

Recommended servings per month

Contaminant Men Women Kids 6-12 Kids 0-5
Sea scallops (mid-Atlantic) Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Sea scallops (U.S., Canada) Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Queen scallop Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Spiny scallop Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Weathervane scallop Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Atlantic calico scallops Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Bay scallops (farmed) Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Common Japanese scallops Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Eco details: 
  • Bay scallops are are primarily farmed in China using suspension nets. This method is one of the most sustainable forms of aquaculture, since the scallops can be harvested without damaging bottom habitat.
  • Sea scallops are harvested by dredging the ocean floor. This fishing method can result in considerable bycatch of non-targeted species and damage to bottom habitat.
  • Avoid calico scallops (which are sometimes sold as bay scallops), as they are severely depleted.