S.C. oyster and clam season is back October 1

Flickr user Doug DuCap Food and Travel

Update September 30: Oyster season is upon us and over at The Island Packet, David Lauderdale is waxing poetic.

In part, "This is our time. It's our time to feel a breeze on our face that's not wringing wet with humidity. It's our time to watch men in oyster bateaux bobbing silently against distant waves of marsh grass. The bonfires of oyster roasts will soon season our lives like the salt in our rivers."

Go get in the spirit with his piece over here.

First reporting September 18: The 20011-2012 season for harvesting oysters and clams in South Carolina will open Saturday, Oct ober 1.

Oyster and clam seasons will remain open through May 15, 2012, unless conditions warrant extending or shortening the seasons. Season dates apply to both recreational and commercial shellfish harvesting. Shellfish harvesters may begin gathering oysters and clams on designated areas one-half hour before official sunrise until one-half hour after official sundown. All shellfish grounds are subject to temporary closure by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control if water quality conditions are threatened. DHEC advertises such closures in your local paper and makes the information available at 800-285-1618.

The DNR maintains State Shellfish Grounds for commercial and recreational harvesting of clams and oysters, here are some facts you should know:

  • Twenty-four Public Shellfish Grounds are managed exclusively for recreational gathering and are posted with boundary signs.
  • The recreational limit is two U.S. bushels of oysters and one-half bushel of clams in any one day.
  • No person may gather more than one personal limit of shellfish on more than two calendar days per any seven-day period.
  • There is a maximum possession limit of three personal limits per boat or vehicle or boat and vehicle combination.
  • Clams must be at least 1 inch in thickness. 

Recreational harvesters should review Public Shellfish Ground maps at the beginning of each season as areas open to harvest may change from time to time. New maps of Public and State Shellfish Grounds will be available by Oct. 1. Maps may also be obtained by calling (843) 953-9854 or by writing Marine Resources Division, Shellfish Management Section, PO Box 12559, Charleston SC 29422.  When requesting maps, please specify the area where you wish to harvest.

A Saltwater Recreational Fishing License is required for residents and non-residents for all recreational shellfish harvesting. Areas designated as Shellfish Culture permits cannot be recreationally harvested unless the harvester has written permission from the permit holder in their possession. Additional rules and restrictions may be found in the DNR Rules and Regulations, where licenses are purchased, or online.

The DNR strongly encourages recycling of oyster shell. Call (843) 953-9300 to find locations near you where shell can be dropped-off for recycling.  All shells collected by the DNR is used to restore shellfish grounds in coastal South Carolina.