Eastern Carolina scallop shuckers fear the end of an era

BEAUFORT, N.C. (WITN) – Scallop shuckers are sounding the alarm of staffing woes in one Eastern Carolina town.

Outer Banks Seafood in Beaufort says they are one of four full-time seafood houses still in operation hand shucking scallops in Eastern North Carolina.

The State Department of Environmental Quality says more than $300 million in revenue comes from the state’s seafood industry.

But with regulations and a lack of interest from the younger generation, owner Wayne Guthrie says people are giving up on the business.

“When I first started, we used shuck scallops 24 hours around the clock while the season was open and pulling anywhere from 18 to people. So, our generation. This is the final. This is the closing of the doors for this.”

The worry now though, is that with regulations holding commercial scalloping to 10 bushels a day, local scallop-shucking crews will become the last of a dying breed.

“The regulations are just killing us because they tell us what to catch, how to catch it, when to catch it, the size it has to be caught. It’s just getting so hard, that everybody’s losing interest in it,” Guthrie added.

Guthrie said scallop yields have been exceptionally high this year. The hope is to raise awareness and reverse the trend.

With so many job openings the opportunity for work is prevalent. Each shucker at Outer Banks Seafood brings in roughly $20.00 a pound, shucking 4 to 5 pounds of scallops a day.

“They should just come and try it and learn and see what it’s all about to go from the water to the table,” Guthrie said.

Another trend mentioned is the impact on the scallop industry from rising inflation. Outer Banks Seafood says inflation has nearly tripled scallop’s value since the inflation rate hikes.