The US Atlantic sea scallop fleet should be able to land 52 million pounds (23,586 metric tons) of scallops during the 2020 fishing year season, which is scheduled to begin April 1, according to an announcement Wednesday by the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC).

That is about 17 percent lower than the 62.5 million pound (28,349 metric tons) projection for the 2019 season. The council's Scallop Advisory Panel and Scallop Committee supported taking a conservative approach for the 2020 season, and the full council agreed the reduction would help support the fishery in 2021.

Landings for the 2019 fishing year to date are around 48.7 million pounds (22,089 metric tons), but there are 3.5 months left to go in the 2019 season, which ends March 31.

The 52-million-pound projection for 2020 is still high compared to many previous years. From 2013 through 2015, landings were in the 30-million-pound range.

"The resource, which is not overfished or subject to overfishing, is considered healthy," the NEFMC said. "Conservative management has greatly contributed to high fishery landings and revenues in recent years. Based on results from the 2019 scallop surveys, large scallops from the remarkably strong 2012 and 2013 year classes are expected to continue supporting the majority of fishing in rotational access areas in fishing year 2020."

In 2020, vessels with full-time limited access scallop permits will be allocated 24 open-area days at sea and six access area trips. Four of the trips will be allocated 18,000 pounds and two will be allocated 9,000 pounds. Vessels with part-time limited access scallop permits will be allocated 9.6 open-area days at sea and three 12,000-pound rotational access area trips.