Oyster season closes; clam season to close May 31

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Staff reports

South Carolina’s harvest season for oysters and mussels closed on May 15, according to South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) officials. 

Clam season will close on Wednesday, May 31, at 30 minutes before official sunset.

Because higher bacterial levels occur when water temperatures exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit, shellfish harvesting during the summer months is limited to commercial harvesters who can meet rigorous handling requirements. 

Coastal waters will remain closed to recreational shellfish harvesting until water temperatures begin to cool in the fall, making shellfish once again safe for harvesting and consumption. Shellfish harvesting is expected to reopen Oct. 1.

SCDNR’s oyster shell recycling and replanting program continues its efforts to encourage the public to recycle their oyster shells. 

Oyster shell recycling drop-off locations are located throughout coastal counties, and collection sites can be at bit.ly/2r8VODS. 

During the summer months, SCDNR returns the recycled shell to shorelines, where it provides an ideal base for larval oysters to attach, thereby replenishing the harvested beds. When the quantity of shell needed to replant shellfish grounds exceeds those that are recycled, SCDNR must purchase shells from other vendors. 

Saltwater recreational fishing license sales provide funding for SCDNR’s shellfish restoration and enhancement efforts.

Late spring and early summer are also the busiest months for SCDNR’s community oyster restoration program, SCORE. 

The public is invited to work with SCDNR staff and other volunteers to create oyster habitat in areas that are not harvestable. The resulting oyster reefs provide a host of ecological and economic benefits, including water filtration, nutrient cycling, and habitat for fish and invertebrates. 

Visit saltwaterfishing.sc.gov.