30 Jul

Hydraulic Systems for Scallop Boats | An Overview

By Dez Duran-Lamanilao

Atlantic sea scallops are sustainably managed in the US and fishermen harvest them responsibly by adhering to existing US regulations, thus minimizing bycatch in the process. They are available year-round, having an above target population level. Scallop boats are designed specifically for these species. Sizes of these boats vary, from 70 to 100 feet in length.

The scallop boat limit is 17,000 pounds and the crew size is also restricted to around seven men, including the boat’s captain. Working on a scallop boat would mean spending long periods of time in the ocean to achieve the allowed limit.

Scallop Boat Fishing

The video below demonstrates how scallop dredging happens using a small boat. Offshore fisheries for scallops particularly on the east coast of North America and Alaska use larger vessels towing 2-3 dredges. A dredge is made up of metal mouth frame and a collection bag is attached to it. A scallop boat drags the dredge (in most cases a scraping dredge) along the sea floor in order to collect scallops.

How A Scallop Boat Works

As explained in the book “The Line, Doyles Revenge,” the hydraulic winches attached to a scallop boat are described to be the most powerful piece of equipment on the boat. Hydraulic fluid pumps these winches in several cylinders surrounding the reel drum. The boat’s main engine supplies the power to pump the hydraulic oil. Consequently, the oil turns the drum to reel inside of the wire, which is attached to the drags. As the reel turns, the drag is cast toward the vessel. A standard sized scallop boat features winches that can provide an average of 3,000 pounds of torsional pull.

Designing a hydraulic system for a scallop boat requires careful analysis of the owner’s requirements, including the possibility of integrating additional features such as an active fin stabilizer system or a powerful thruster, depending on the system’s capability. Aside from the hydraulic pump, other system components include the reservoir tank, a filter, flexible hoses, a relief valve, and actuators. The system designer should be able to come up with something that meets the real needs of a scallop boat.

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