Changes could be coming to scallop season in our northern counties.
- FWC considers shorter scallop season
- Proposed changes would affect Citrus and Hernando counties
- FWC to make final decision by Feb. 8
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is proposing shortening the season in some counties and adding days in others.
Thousands of people come to Citrus and Hernando counties for scalloping.
In 2017, visitors were able to search for scallops from July 1-September 24.
But this year the FWC is proposing a shorter scalloping season for Citrus and Hernando: July 10-September 10. The agency is also calling for an additional season in Pasco County: July 20-29. It would be the first time the county would be allowed to harvest scallops since 1994.
It's a change many in Citrus County don't want because of the time they will be losing.
This year, scallop season started July 1 and went until September 24.
"In July that's when everybody comes. We're booked up usually the whole month of July," fishing guide Brian Stoner said.
The FWC said the new schedule is meant to ensure a plentiful season for all from here to Port Saint Joe. Officials also say starting the season a little later would allow the scallops to get bigger.
Workers in Citrus County say it’s not just the schedule changes themselves that have them frustrated but also the timing.
"We've already opened up our reservations. We're already booked from June 30 through the middle of August," Homosassa Riverside Resort general manager David Lawson said.
If these changes do go into effect, there's a chance people who have already made plans to visit the area may not get to reschedule.
"I would say 10 percent of those initial bookings they're fine with moving to a later date. But the rest of them they've already put in their time off from work they've already been planning their vacations,” River Adventure Tours owner Gary Bartell Jr said.
It's still several weeks until the FWC has a final vote on the scheduling changes.
For now, the business owners in Citrus County say they will continue on as planned, but they do wish the final decision would have come earlier.
The FWC is expected to make it’s final decision by Feb. 8.