While most scallops consumed in the U.S. are wild-caught, the availability of farmed scallops is increasing with demand. The majority of farmed scallops are a "Best Choice" because the way they're raised presents few threats to the environment.
Scallops are available year-round. For food safety reasons, fresh scallops may be limited to certain seasons in specific regions. They're cooked in or out of the shell and available fresh or frozen. Scallops are also available raw for sushi and are known as hotate.
Scallops use a strong, circular muscle to clap their shells together, letting them "fly" through the water and out of harm's way. It's this circular (abductor) muscle that's prized as seafood.
Scallops are filter feeders that live on tiny particles filtered out of seawater. They actually help improve water quality and clarity. Farmed scallops make up a very small percentage of the scallops consumed in the U.S. The vast majority are wild-caught in U.S. and Canadian fisheries.
A small amount of the farmed scallops available in the U.S. are imported from China and Japan. Because they don't rely on fishmeal or fish oil-based feeds, scallop farms have a very low impact on marine resources. In addition, scallop farms rarely use fertilizers, antibiotics and other chemicals that could spread into surrounding waters and impact the local ecosystem.
Scallops are commonly raised "on-bottom" or "off-bottom." The off-bottom technique is preferred, because these scallops are harvested by hand. On-bottom scallops are often removed from the seafloor with a heavy net called a dredge, which can harm ecosystems that marine life depends on. The majority of the farmed scallops imported into the U.S. are farmed off-bottom.
Most scallop farms cause minimal environmental impacts, making farmed scallops a "Best Choice."