Scallops that thrive in the cold waters off Hokkaido are quite thick and filling, making them a delicious shell fish enjoyed by a wide range of consumers, from children to seniors. The scallop’s large adductor muscle is sweet and savory and contains a large amount of amino acids, perfect for sashimi, sushi, butter fried, or deep fried. Scallops also have a wealth of nutrients such as vitamin B12, taurine, iron and lead, making for a healthy food as well.
Hokkaido accounts for some 90% of all the scallops caught in Japan and its scallops are also well regarded internationally. The scallop stock momentarily dropped causing the catch to decrease, but efforts to protect the scallop started in the 1970s helped transform and recover the industry into one that is cultivated a major fishery. Later, initiatives in consideration of the environment were continued, and in 2013 Hokkaido’s scallop fishing obtained MSC certification. known as the eco label of the sea.
■Scallops are caught along every coastline in Hokkaido
Scallops represent the largest catch of any shellfish in Hokkaido today. Scallops are harvested from many areas and in particular the catch is largest along the coast of the Okhotsk Sea.
■Map / Main municipalities with fishing grounds
Kitami City, Sarufutsu Village, Esashi Town, Yubetsu Town, Wakkanai City, Monbetsu City, Mori Town, Yakumo Town, Bekkai Town, Hamatonbetsu Town, Okoppe Town, Oshamanbe Town, Saroma Town, Abashiri City
There are two ways to catch scallops. Aquaculture is predominantly used along Uchiura Bay in Southern Hokkaido, Lake Saroma in Eastern Hokkaido, and along the coast of the Sea of Japan. Scallops are hung underwater in cages or on ropes, where they are suspended for a period of between one and two years until they mature. Young scallops raised for one year in the Okhotsk Sea are released and matured between two and four years on the seafloor before being harvested. In both cases, artificial feed is not necessary, as the scallops grow fat off of plankton in the water.
In Sarufutsu Village, one production center, scallops are grown larger over a five year period, instead of the normal four years after the young scallops are released. On the Notsuke Peninsula of Eastern Hokkaido, the morning current runs strong and vast amounts of plankton become food, making the scallops particularly large and savory. This shows that unique scallops are nurtured in each region of Hokkaido. Uchiura Bay is also famous as a major fishing ground for fresh scallops.
Scallops are shipped throughout the year. The catch is particularly large from winter to spring during the spawning season and in the summer when the adductor muscle grows large.