The bay scallop, Argopecten irradians amplicostatus, in northeastern Mexico.
Abstract: The bay scallop, Argopecten irradians amplicostatus, has been present in the coastal lagoons of northeastern Mexico from Laguna Madre, Tamaulipas, to Tuxpan, Veracruz. But now, usually scarce in all lagoons, the scallop is harvested sporadically by fishermen who wade and collect them by hand and with tongs. Some are eaten by the fishermen and some are sold. They bring the fishermen about 60 pesos (5.88US$)/kg. Only the adductor muscles are eaten; they are prepared in cocktails and in ceviche. Little evidence exists that this scallop species was used in the early Mexican cultures.
Subject: Scallops (Consumption data)
Harvesting (Methods)
Fish industry (Production management)
Fish industry (Marketing)
Fish industry (International trade)
Fisheries (Production management)
Fisheries (Marketing)
Fisheries (International trade)
Author: Wakida-Kusunoki, Armando T.
Pub Date: 06/22/2009
Publication: Name: Marine Fisheries Review Publisher: Superintendent of Documents Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Agricultural industry; Business Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 U.S. Department of Commerce ISSN: 0090-1830
Issue: Date: Summer, 2009 Source Volume: 71 Source Issue: 3
Topic: Event Code: 650 Sales & consumption; 230 Production management; 240 Marketing procedures; 640 Foreign trade Computer Subject: Company marketing practices
Product: Product Code: 0913070 Scallops; 0722000 Crop Harvesting; 0900000 Fishing, Hunting & Trapping NAICS Code: 114112 Shellfish Fishing; 115113 Crop Harvesting, Primarily by Machine; 114 Fishing, Hunting and Trapping SIC Code: 0913 Shellfish; 0722 Crop harvesting; 0912 Finfish; 0919 Miscellaneous marine products; 0921 Fish hatcheries and preserves
Geographic: Geographic Scope: Mexico Geographic Name: Mexico Geographic Code: 1MEX Mexico
Accession Number: 214999742
Full Text: Introduction

The bay scallop, Argopecten irradians amplicostatus, has been present in low abundances in coastal lagoons in the northeastern Mexican States of Tamaulipas and Veracruz. Its distributional range extends from Laguna Madre, Tamaulipas, southward and ends in Tuxpan, Veracruz (Fay et x1.,1983; Rodriquez-Castro, 2002). Rodriquez-Castro (2002) found shells of this species in six localities on the coast of Tamaulipas (Fig. 1), but no live scallops. This species was also present in Boca Tampachiche, a section of the Tamiahua Lagoon, Veracruz, before the mouth closed to the Gulf of Mexico (Roman Maya (1)).

Bay scallop harvests have been light and sporadic, and most scallops were taken for personal consumption. Fishermen retained scallops when harvesting oysters. The scallops were harvested only in Laguna Madre, Tamaulipas.

The clam fishery in the Mexican Gulf Coast lagoons is small and is based on brackish water clams, Rangia spp., and Polymesoda caroliniana (Wakida-Kusunoki and MacKenzie, 2004). The clam stocks are small probably because the mouths of the lagoons are semi-closed and unstable. As a consequence, the salinity is highly variable and a high mortality of clams and probably the bay scallops results when the salinity becomes too high (in the high 30's and 40's in ppt) (Drexel (2)). In the 1960's, Laguna Madre closed and its waters were hyperhaline (Garcia-Cubas, 1968).


Historical Uses

Mollusks were used by the pre-Columbian cultures in Mexico as food, trade goods (Jimenez-Badillo, 1991), personal adornment (Suarez-Diez, 2002), religious items (Houston (3)) (Jimenez Badillo, 1991), building construction (Mackenzie and Wakida-Kusunoki, 1997; Stark, 2001), and making music (Clark (4)). Pectinid shells, but not shells of A. i. amplicostatus, were represented in Aztec icons of liturgical scenes (Kubler (5)), and they have been found as Aztec tributes in the Templo Mayor in Mexico City (Jimenez Badillo, 1991), and as Mayan tributes in Tikal, Guatemala (Laporte (6)) (Borhegyi, 1966). Little evidence exists that A. i. amplicostatus was used by the early cultures in Mexico.


Pectinid shells nowadays are used in handcrafts (Fig. 2). In Catholicism, the shells are a symbol of baptism and sometimes a shell is used to pour the baptismal water (Fig. 3).

Harvesting Methods

Bay scallops were harvested only in Mezquital and Carboneras, Tamaulipas, but the scallop beds near Mezquital, Tamaulipas, were destroyed during the passage of Hurricane Emily in July 2005 (Rivera (7)). The fishermen, all of whom are males with low incomes, intersperse scallop and oyster harvests. Mezquital, in the northern part of the Mexican LagunaMadre, supports about 10 fishermen, who are from 16 to 60 years old. The fishermen get to the shellfish beds in fiberglass boats about 7.6 m long and propelled by 15 hp outboard motors. Each boat carries 2-3 fishermen who share the boat expenses. They harvest oysters and bay scallops while wading in shallow waters. They feel for the bay scallops with their feet and collect them with their hands or short oyster tongs (Rivera (7), Garcia (8)) (MacKenzie and Wakida, 1997) (Fig. 4).

Bay scallop harvesting was done only in June and then only about once a week, the effort being governed by market demand. The harvesting days were only when the water was sufficiently warm to allow fishermen to wade. They usually harvested bay scallops for about 5 hours (9 a.m. 2 p.m.) each day, and each could harvest as many as 200 scallops/hour. No landing statistics of bay scallops in the Mexican coast of the Gulf exist because there is no fisherman licensing or reporting requirement for bay scallops.


Markets and Marketing

Fishermen sold the adductor muscles of the bay scallops, which were obtained only after cooking the whole scallop. They were sold along with oysters to tourists and to small dealers who transport marine products to Matamoros, 70 km away, and to Reynosa, 270 km away. In 2005, the buyers paid fishermen 60 pesos (5.88US$)/kg of bay scallop muscles. A kilogram contains about 500 bay scallop muscles. Each fisherman earned 120-150 pesos (US $11.76-$14.70)/day.


Local consumption

Bay scallop muscles usually were-prepared in cocktails: boiled scallops were combined in a glass with lemon juice, onion, chili, oil, salt, ketchup, hot pepper, and coriander. In ceviche, the scallops were cooked with lemon juice, onion, chili, oil, and salt (Hernandez Pena (9)).


I thank Alejandro Gonzalez Cruz, Leobardo Garcia Solorio, and Ubaldo Roman Henandez for their help as guides in tours of the scallop areas and for providing information and photographs. I also thank Fernando T. Wakida for useful comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript, and others who provided information.

Literature Cited

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Garcia-Cubas, A. Jr. 1968. Ecologia y distribucion de los micromoluscos recientes de la Laguna Madre, Tamaulipas, Mexico. UNAM, Inst. Geol. Bol. 86:1-44.

Jimenez Badillo, D. 1991. Malacologia del Templo Mayor a partir de los datos de la ofrenda H. In O. J. Polanco (Editor), La fauna en el Templo Mayor, p. 171-211. GV Editores-Asociacion de Amigos del Templo Mayor.

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(7) Rivera, Noe, Oyster and scallop fishermen. Mezquital, Tamaulipas. Personal. commun., 2006.

(8) Garcia, Leobardo, biologist, Biology Research Station in Carboneras, Tamaulipas. Personal commun., Aug. 2006.

(9) Hernandez Pena, A. President of fishing cooperative "Boca Ciega" Matamoros, Tamaulipas. Personal commun., Nov. 2005.

Armando T. Wakida-Kusunoki is with the Instituto National de Pesca, Ave. Heroes del 21 de Abril S/N, Colonia Playa Norte, Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche, Mexico C.P 24120 (email:
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