In this Dec. 17, 2011, file photo, scallop meat is shucked at sea off Harpswell. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

DENNYSVILLE, Maine — Maine fishing regulators are closing the state’s richest scallop fishing grounds in the coming days.

The state is closing Cobscook, Whiting and Dennys bays for the rest of the fishing season starting Sunday to help conserve the scallop population, the Maine Department of Marine Resources said Friday. Cobscook Bay is home to some of the most productive scallop fishing in the state.

Scallops may still be harvested by drag boats only on Feb. 15 and by divers only on Feb. 20, the marine department said. The St. Croix River, another key scallop fishing area, will remain open until further notice, the department said.

Maine is also closing a handful of other scallop fishing areas around the state, including instituting a partial closure of western Casco Bay, the department said.

Maine’s scallop fishing season takes place every winter. The scallops are prized by restaurants and seafood markets. Maine scallops were worth more than $4 million at the docks in 2019, the most recent year for which statistics are available.