Students in the Offshore year and Skippers program went out with Hurricane Island staff to set spat bags on Wednesday, October 5th.
Spat bags are mesh bags that are set in the ocean and left in order to collect juvenile scallops. North Haven Community School now has three lines of spat bags set in different locations in Penobscot Bay.
Offshore year is an interdisciplinary experiential learning program focused on community, sustainability, and marine science geared towards 10th grade students. Skippers is a program meant to provide highschool students with the information and experience they need to participate in coastal fisheries.
According to the Offshore Year coordinator Kim Rosenbaum, when the secondary school visited Hurricane Island in late September, students were given the opportunity to select three sites to set spat bags, measure the correct amount of line, tie the spat bags onto the rope, and attach it to a buoy and a weight. Rosenbaum said, On October 5th students went out on the Sunny (one of Hurricane islands boats) and set the spat bags. The end of September and Beginning of October is the best time to set spat bags because that is when the scallops are spawning.
Throughout the fall, winter, and early spring the sites will need to be checked regularly in order to make sure that they haven't drifted away from the original location and are not interfering with other gear.
Aquaculture is bringing hope for a more sustainable fishing industry. Madison Maier, the Hurricane Island aquaculture manager said, “Scallop aquaculture diversifies Maine’s working waterfront and provides a sustainable protein source.”
According to Byrn Campbell, a Junior at NHCS, “it is really awesome that we are able not only to learn about aquaculture inside a classroom but also to participate in it in a super hands-on way.”