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Scallops on the Bay — Farming Shellfish in Maine’s Coastal Oceans

Written by Kevin Erdvig Published on January 27, 2021 in People:Passion I am a freelance filmmaker in Pennsylvania. In my spare time I spend time with family, hunt ruffed grouse and mallards, and camp (the deeper in the wilderness the better). I feel closest to the Creator when I'm outdoors, so if you are looking to find me check there first.

It’s a tough job. Routine early mornings, rain or shine, gale and squall. But the joy and peace brought by the crashing waves, the salty sea air, and the fresh harvest, make it all worth it.

Marsden Brewer is a third generation lobster fisherman whose story I had the privilege of filming one crisp fall morning off the craggy coast of Northern Maine.

My favorite part of filming is getting to hear the stories — to learn the trade and see their passion for what they do. That passion, has changed quite a bit in the last couple of years for this eccentric father son duo. The pair, who once fully concentrated on Lobsters, have switched gears towards a new species of shellfish — scallops.

“Most people my age talk to their children every once in a while. I don’t think many have the blessing I do, to be able to work everyday with my son.”

Marsden Brewer
Scallop farmer driving the boat.
Marsden Brewer manning the helm. Photo: Kevin Erdvig

Leaving Lobsters

Lobster has always been Marsden’s first love. As soon as he was old enough to walk, he was on a boat helping his father and grandfather harvest lobster from the large cage-like traps that dot the ocean floor, visible only by each trap’s colorful bouy bobbing on the choppy surf.

Although lobster fishing holds a special place in his heart, Marsden now spends most hours of each day mastering the art of farming scallops.

A scallop farmer holding two lobsters.
Marsden Brewer holding a pair of “bugs.” Photo: Kevin Erdvig

Unlike the inefficient, harmful practice of dredging for scallops, Marsden and his son Bob have pioneered a new form of harvesting scallops learned from Japanese fisherman through a sister state program.

Using hanging baskets, they submerge scallops in their planktonic state, suspending them between two buoys to keep them out of reach of ravenous crabs. After a couple of weeks, the baskets are fetched again, and full grown scallops are hoisted onto the boat.

A scallop basket fresh out of the ocean.
Bob hoisting a scallop basket out of the bay to harvest the shellfish. Photo: Kevin Erdvig

A treat, fresh from the ocean

Scallops are a delicious treat raw and right from the bay, but also cooked briefly in a hot cast iron with your choice of seasoning — I love me some old bay.

Although I enjoyed eating the mouthwatering shellfish, the real treat was seeing the energy with which these two tenacious fishermen ply their trade. And beyond the work of scallop harvesting, there is the blessing of a father and son laboring together. At the close of our interview, Marsden noted, “most people my age talk to their children every once in a while. I do not think many have the blessing I do, to be able to work everyday with my son.”

Written by Kevin Erdvig Published on January 27, 2021 in People:Passion I am a freelance filmmaker in Pennsylvania. In my spare time I spend time with family, hunt ruffed grouse and mallards, and camp (the deeper in the wilderness the better). I feel closest to the Creator when I'm outdoors, so if you are looking to find me check there first.