Oyster season starts Oct. 1

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The 2016-2017 season for harvesting shellfish (clams, oysters, mussels and other bivalves) in the coastal waters of South Carolina will open a half hour before sunrise on Saturday, Oct. 1.

The shellfish season will remain open through May 15, 2017, unless conditions warrant extending or shortening the season.

Season dates apply to both recreational and commercial shellfish harvesting.

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) maintains state shellfish grounds for commercial and recreational harvesting of shellfish. Twenty public shellfish grounds and 13 state shellfish grounds are managed exclusively for recreational gathering. An additional 53 grounds are managed for recreational and commercial harvest. All state-managed grounds are posted with boundary signs.

Recreational harvesters can get updated public or state shellfish ground maps at the beginning of each season, as the areas open to harvest change from year to year.

Maps of designated harvest areas can be downloaded from the DNR website at www.dnr.sc.gov; by calling 843-953-9854; or writing to the Shellfish Management Section, Attn: Ben Dyar, SCDNR, P.O. Box 12559, Charleston, SC 29422-2559.

When requesting maps, specify the location where you wish to harvest, being as detailed as possible. Maps for the 2016-17 season will be available by Oct. 1.

Recreational harvesters must have a saltwater recreational fishing license, available at regional DNR offices, at many fishing supply stores, online and by phone at 1-866-714-3611. To purchase a license online or to find list of license vendors, visit the DNR website.

The recreational personal limit is two bushels of oysters and one half-bushel of clams in any one day, limited to two calendar days per seven-day period. There is a maximum possession of three personal limits per boat or vehicle. Clams must be at least 1 inch in thickness.

All harvesters are encouraged to “cull in place,” leaving dead shell and smaller oysters on the shoreline where they will continue to grow and provide habitat for future generations of oysters.

Oyster consumers are encouraged to recycle their shells. Visit online or call 843-953-9397 to find locations near you where shell can be dropped off for recycling.

In the event of a hurricane, major rain event or pollution spill, shellfish beds may be temporarily closed by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).

DHEC announces such closures in the local media and makes the information available online and at 1-800-285-1618.

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