Evaluation of Larval Sources and Population Connectivity in Atlantic Sea Ccallop (Placopecten magellanicus)

The U.S. sea scallop (Placopecten magellanicus) fishery is the most valuable fishery in the U.S. and has shown a remarkable recovery from a severely overfished state in early 1990s with a biomass increase of a factor of about 12 between 1994 to 2009. One important contributor to the recent success in recovery is the system of rotational closures
that has evolved in the Mid-Atlantic Bight region. These closures allow the buildup of
spawning biomass, which may be contributing to increased recruitment that has been observed in recent years. To examine the linkage between increased spawning biomass and potential for increased downstream recruitment, we will use an oceanographic
circulation model (Regional Ocean Modeling System, ROMS) coupled to a scallop larval
model to simulate larval dispersal dynamics and connectivity for the scallop stock.
Simulations will specifically examine the trajectories of larval dispersal from closed areas (Figure 1) to determine general connectivity patterns and allowing us
to address test whether there evidence that area closures could facilitate improved fertilization and recruitment  success. The results of this proposal have direct impact on
sea scallop management by providing key comparisons of larval dispersal from closed areas with known abundances of recruitment to the fishery, as well as identification of
larval source and sink regions for the stock. This will allow management strategies to be optimized for maximal recruitment resulting from area closures.