Often the way that animals are harvested from the sea influences how sustainable they can be. Scallops can be dredged--where a heavy frame with a net attached is dragged across the seafloor, or harvested by a diver. Such diver scallops do not cause the environmental damage caused by dredging—which both scours the seafloor and catches unintended species.
If you’ve got fresh diver scallops, you really needn’t do much with them. The best I ever had came from the Oxford city market in Great Britain, but if you’re lucky you can get fresh ones from the right seafood purveyors. Properly frozen ones may be OK too. Fresh scallops will smell like the sea. Treat them carefully: quickly rinse them in clean water and pat them dry before cooking; you don’t want them to be waterlogged.
Scallops (1 per person)
High quality balsamic vinegar
Heat a very lightly oiled steel skillet or pan until it’s really hot. Carefully place the scallops on the pan and quickly sear one side. After about 1 minute, carefully flip them, sear the other side for another minute and remove. If the pan is hot enough, the scallops should be lightly brown. If not, it’s OK to leave them on a bit longer. However, avoid overcooking them; they will continue to cook after being removed. Put one or two drops of the best balsamic vinegar you can get on each scallop and serve immediately on a spoon.
You can read all about fishing methods at the Monterey Bay Aquarium website.