Recreational shellfish season opening delayed

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Staff reports

The 2017-2018 season for recreational harvesting of shellfish (clams, oysters, mussels and other bivalves) in coastal waters off South Carolina will open a half hour before official sunrise on Sunday, Oct. 15.

The recreational season opening has been delayed for two weeks due to water quality impacts from Tropical Storm Irma. 

The recreational shellfish season will remain open through May 15, 2018, unless conditions warrant extending or shortening the season.

When the season opens Oct. 15, it will be important for harvesters to check with the S.C. Department of Health & Environmental Control (DHEC) to verify whether any closures remain in effect. This information is available at 800-285-1618 and can be viewed on an interactive map at the DHEC website at 

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) maintains state shellfish grounds for commercial and recreational harvesting of clams and oysters. 

All state-managed grounds are posted with boundary signs. Areas designated as shellfish culture permits are privately managed and cannot be recreationally harvested unless the harvester has written permission from the permit holder in their possession.

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

Maps of designated harvest areas can be downloaded from the SCDNR website at or online through the Recreational Map Web Application. 

Printed maps can also be obtained by calling 843-953-9854 or writing the Shellfish Management Section, Attn: Ben Dyar, SCDNR, PO Box 12559, Charleston, SC 29422-2559. When requesting maps, specify the general area where you wish to harvest. 

Recreational harvesters must have a Saltwater Recreational Fishing License, available from SCDNR, at many fishing supply stores, and online. The recreational limit is two U.S. 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. Check online or call 843-953-9397 to find locations near you where shell can be dropped off for recycling. 

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