South Carolina's oyster season returns October 1

Flickr user Orin Zebest

Seafood lovers in South Carolina have another reason to be happy: clam and oyster season in South Carolina coastal waters opens one-half hour before sunrise on Monday, October 1.

The recreational and commercial oyster and clam seasons is slated to remain open through May 15, 2013.

Here's some more good-to-know information from a relase:

In the event of a hurricane or major rain event, shellfish beds may be temporarily closed by S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). DHEC announces such closures in your local paper and makes the information available at 1-800-285-1618.

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) maintains State Shellfish Grounds for commercial and recreational harvesting of clams and oysters. Twenty Public Shellfish Grounds are managed exclusively for recreational gathering and are posted with boundary signs. Areas designated as Shellfish Culture permits 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 may be downloaded from the DNR website at www.dnr.sc.gov/marine/shellfish/shellfishmaps or may be obtained by calling (843) 953-9854 or writing the Shellfish Management Section, SCDNR, PO Box 12559, Charleston, SC 29422-2559.  When requesting maps, please specify the general area where you wish to harvest.  Maps for the 2012-13 season will be available by Oct. 1, 2012.

Recreational harvesters must have a Saltwater Recreational Fishing License, available from DNR and at many fishing supply stores. A list of license vendors may be found at www.dnr.sc.gov/purchase. 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. Additional rules and restrictions may be found in the DNR Rules and Regulations, where licenses are purchased, or online at www.dnr.sc.gov/marine/shellfish.

South Carolina residents commercially harvesting on State Shellfish Grounds require a commercial saltwater license, a commercial shellfish harvester license, and a permit for the specific State Shellfish Ground.  Call (843) 953-9301 or 953-9311 for additional information on commercial harvesting requirements.

DNR uses Saltwater Recreational Fishing License revenues to construct and enhance renewable oyster resources in the coastal counties.  The public can help this effort by recycling oyster shells.  Visit saltwaterfishing.sc.gov/oyster or call (843) 953-9397 to find locations near you where shell can be dropped-off for recycling.  All shell collected by the DNR is used to restore shellfish grounds in coastal South Carolina.

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