South Carolina's oyster, shellfish season returns October 1

Seafood lovers 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, 2014.

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

Season dates apply to both recreational and commercial shellfish harvesting. In the event of a hurricane, major precipitation, or pollution spill, shellfish beds may be temporarily closed by S.C. Department of Health and Environment 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 or may 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, please specify the general area where you wish to harvest. Maps for the 2013-14 season will be available by October 1, 2013. 

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 limit 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 Regulations, available where licenses are purchased or online.

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 harvest area. Call (843) 953-9311 for additional information on commercial harvesting requirements. 

All oyster 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 “Complete the Cycle” by recycling your shells. Call (843) 953-9397 to find locations near you where shell can be dropped-off for recycling. DNR uses Saltwater 

Recreational Fishing License revenues to construct and enhance renewable oyster resources in the coastal counties by replanting recycled shell. All shell collected by the DNR is used to restore shellfish grounds in coastal South Carolina.

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