In this Dec. 17, 2011, file photo, scallop meat is shucked at sea on opening day off Harpswell, Maine. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty | AP

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NEW BEDFORD, Massachusetts — A regulatory panel that oversees East Coast fishing is requesting the federal government take some emergency actions to benefit the scallop fishery.

Scallops are one of the most valuable seafood items in the U.S. The New England Fishery Management Council has voted to ask the National Marine Fisheries Service to take a series of steps because of the stress the outbreak of coronavirus has caused the scallop fishery.

The recommended changes are technical in nature and concern issues such as how fishing quota can be carried from one year into the next.

The council said the decision is “entirely in the hands of” the federal government. A spokesperson for the fisheries service said the agency is considering the request.

The scallop fishery is coping with a slowed market for seafood. Some scallop fishermen have resorted to selling their catch direct to the public because of the disruption to the supply chain caused by the virus.