A tasty look into a thriving industry

Dozens of people visited the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences for one of their Science Saturdays events. This one focused on commercial fishing at Viking Village and it’s thriving scallop industry.

“It is the most healthiest fishery that we have. There’s never been so many scallops off the East Coast ever because of the way they farmed it,” said Karter Larson, assistant manager of Viking Village. “Closed area, open bottom, closed area kind of thing – sort of like farming when you don’t use the land that year.”

There are about 10 scallop boats at Viking Village, Larson says. The scallopers are only allowed to fish a set number of days throughout the year starting in March.

“It’s rough. It’s a rough life, but they bring food to your table, and it’s better than importing from other countries,” Larson said.

NOAA Fisheries indicates New Jersey scallop landings generated more than $123 million in revenue in 2016.

According to Chef John Grifo, the secret to delicious seafood is to make sure not to overcook it.

“Especially with scallops, you want to get a nice, hot pan and get a good sear. When you sear the scallops, what it does is it brings out, caramelizes the sugar in them,” he said.

Visitors had a chance to watch Grifo prepare the Viking Village scallops.

“They’re going to have a lot of amazing flavors in their mouth, you know, because they’re going to have sweet, a little heat, they’re going to have the crunch of the candied bacon,” Grifo said.

They patiently waited for the best part — tasting them.

“Absolutely delicious. It makes me want to go home and cook some,” said Barenegt Light resident Shirley Alnutt. “I take pride in the fact that we have a large scalloping industry in Barnegat Light.”

“Well, I think what you’re seeing is a reaction from the community and folks in the LBI region about how important shellfish and the fisheries are to New Jersey,” said Bill Walsh, a volunteer for ReClam the Bay, an environmental organization that works to maintain the Barnegat Bay’s oyster and clam population.

The Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences has been hosting Science Saturdays for years now during the fall, winter and spring. They focus on educating people on everything from sea life, coastal preservation, and more. Their cooking demo events tend to be the most popular and this one ended up being standing room only.

“Each year it grows. We attract more professionals and academics to come talk to the community about the eco sciences. This spring, we have 12 Science Saturdays planned every Saturday, so it’s a really vital growing program, and it’s open and free to the public,” said Daniella Kerner, executive director of the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences.

Larson hopes that visitors leave with not only with a taste of fresh Jersey scallops, but a greater appreciation for the state’s fishermen and the industry.

We’re in this together
For a better-informed future. Support our nonprofit newsroom.
Donate to NJ Spotlight