This little scallop shucking implement is a key part of the scallop fisherman’s gear once the scallops are on deck, whether they’re hand-picked off the ocean floor (for minimal impact and maximum sustainability) or picked up by dragging nets.

State law requires harvesters to shuck their scallop catch at sea to reduce the chances of toxins that are sometimes found in scallop innards from contaminating the part of the shellfish we eat, the adductor muscle. A good scallop knife is crucial then, and scallop fisherman Kristan Porter says he keeps plenty in stock.

“Because they either get (accidentally) thrown overboard – instead of the shell – or break,” Porter said.

The tip of the knife opens the shell and the narrow part allows the shucker to get in, pivot and scrape the meat off the shell. That narrow part of the blade is the weak link.

“Over time they break,” Porter said.

Some fishermen favor a dull tip, some a sharp, but the commonality is that the professional shucker is particular about his knife.

“Everybody customizes their knives,” Porter said. They might wrap the handle in duct tape or electrical tape to make it easier to hold onto. T

hey aren’t expensive – the one in this picture retails for between $14 and $17. Good thing because Porter and his crew, for example, will likely go through four or five in a season. Speaking of, the season is racing by; have you had your Maine scallops yet?