The Symbol of a Nurturing Aquaculture
Scallop farming begins with scattering young scallops over the seabed. This first requires the elimination of starfish from the area, and we must keep diligent recordings of our findings using underwater cameras.
Nurtured Over a Period of 4 years
Esashi scallops are raised by releasing the young scallops into the fishing grounds, then allowing them to mature for three years before harvesting them. The fishing grounds are divided into four quadrants, and each year the young scallops are released into one of the quadrants. Three years later, four-year-old scallops are harvested. We call this a "four-wheel harvesting system."
Over the Course of 4 years
In spring, baby scallops swimming around in the ocean are collected. It takes about a year for them to grow to a size between three and four centimeters.
Before releasing young scallops into the fishing grounds, starfish and other possible enemies must be removed in preparation for the scallops. Then the wintered young scallops (year-old scallops) are released.
Years 2 - 3
Each year the condition, growth, and viability of the scallops are inspected at each fishing ground. The environment, inhabited by scallops, is maintained by eliminating the starfish.
The scallops are allowed to mature for four years on the bottom of the ocean, their natural habitat. Then, large and mature scallops are harvested in what is called the "honsogyo" or "main operation."
The Importance of Developing the Fishing Grounds
Once the drift ice has gone and fishing season arrives, elimination of starfish and development of the fishing grounds begins. Creating a comfortable environment in which the Esashi scallops can live ensures increased maturity of the scallops.
Soft Fishing Grounds Where Scallops Grow
Compared to fishing grounds in other districts, the sediment found in fishing grounds in Esashi contains fine sand and mud. Because the sand is very soft, there is no need for the scallops to harden their shells, so it is thin, and most of the nutrients instead go to the adductor muscle. Because scallops bury themselves in the sand, the scallop fishermen must determine the characteristics of each fishing ground and conduct daily research into improving timing, methods, and tools used for harvesting the scallops.
Between June and October
Full of glycogen making them sweet and flavorful.
Bottom dredges (that claw the bottom of the ocean) placed on either side of the boat are lowered into the ocean, and using the girder-net fishing method, the dredges are pulled by a wire to dig up the scallops on the seabed.