King scallop

Everything you need to know about the famous Erquy's shellfish

A shellfish that is desired

The king scallop season is open! Every year, at the beginning of October, it's a well-established ritual that fishermen and restaurateurs look forward to... as well as gourmets' taste buds! At dawn, around fifty shellfish boats leave the quays of Erquy's port to head for the fishing grounds of the famous king scallop, in the hope of a fine season ahead.

A fisherman shakes the dredges to make king scallops fall. Archives Ouest crédit Joel Le Galle.

Race against time!

Once off the coast of Cap Fréhel, Fort La Latte or the Bay of Saint-Brieuc, the fishermen work hard on board to position the boat and send the dredgers into the water to recover the well-known shellfish, nestling in the sandy seabed at a depth of between 5 and 40 meters.

Once the dredgers have been hauled aboard the boat, the fishermen vigorously shake them to remove all the shells clinging to the rings, then sort them directly on deck. The process is meticulous: only king scallops measuring at least 10.2 cm are selected, the others being returned to the sea to continue their growth. The dredgers are immediately put back into the water. You have to be precise in your maneuvers, every second counts! The fishermen have 45 minutes to bring back the most beautiful king scallops, no more, no less.

Bay of Saint-Brieuc king scallops

Sustainable fishing for exceptional seafood

To continue to enjoy and celebrate the king scallop every year, you have to be reasonable and follow the well-known shellfish's demanding rhythm.

Virtuous regulations and in-depth monitoring have gradually been put in place to ensure its renewal. The fishing season therefore only runs from the beginning of October to the end of April, outside the shellfish reproduction period. Fishing is limited to 2 days a week, generally Mondays and Wednesdays, for 45 minutes a day. Vessels in the Erquy's port are authorised to land a maximum of 1.1 tonnes of shellfish, although the quota may vary slightly.

Every year, before the start of each season, a scientific campaign assesses the state of stocks. Boats are sent out to collect king scallops from all over the area, to estimate the quantity, age, distribution and state of health of the king scallops. This information is vital for planning the season and setting quotas. During the 2023-2024 season, 61,300 tonnes of king scallops can be fished in the Bay of Saint-Brieuc, which rhymes with healthy shellfish!

MSC Fisheries Standard

At the end of 2022, the king scallop fishery in the Bay of Saint-Brieuc was certified to theMSC Fisheries Standard for its sustainable management of marine resources and its commitment to sustainability in the oceans.

To meet the demands of the king scallops and preserve the seabed, some fishermen go even further in their responsible fishing approach: collecting the most beautiful king scallops by hand, only by scuba diving!

Ahoy! Shells in sight!

Back at the Erquy's port, the bags of shellfish are immediately unloaded and taken to the Erquy's fish market auction.
The fish market auction? The place where the crier calls out to potential buyers as if at an auction? Those days are gone. The sale now takes place in the computerised auction room, where the local fishmongers and restaurateurs give their buying instructions via a computer. But it doesn't take away from the charm of this place.


Would you like to become a king scallop specialist or find out everything there is to know about Erquy's port? Grand Site Cap d'Erquy - Cap Fréhel is organising a series of events and guided tours during the autumn and spring holidays!

Every 3 years, at the end of the fishing season, the town celebrates the famous shellfish during the Coquille Saint-Jacques festival. In 2024, it's Paimpol's turn to celebrate during the weekend of 20 and 21 of April.

Find all the events about the well-known shellfish in our calendar.


Now that you know (almost) everything about the well-known shellfish, it's time to eat!

Discover our restaurants selection. Whether pan-fried, steamed, flambéed or simply raw, come and enjoy king scallops in all their forms and flavours!

Preparing king scallops

Whether you're having dinner with friends or a romantic get-together, king scallops are a great choice. Moreover, it's excellent for your health! Like all seafood, it is rich in minerals and trace elements, proteins and lipids (particularly omega 3), as well as vitamins B9 and B12.


Stock up on freshly caught shellfish from our local fishermen.
Useful information: for 1 kg of whole king scallops without coral, you will get around 5 to 6 shells.

By the way, where does the king scallop get its name from?

There was a time when the shell was worn to protect against witchcraft, bad luck and disease. For these symbolic reasons, the shell stood out as an attribute of the apostle Saint-Jacques, from whom it took the name. The pilgrims hung it on their bag, their hat, their cape or even their staff. The shell then became, in the 12th century, the symbol of pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela.