Local oystermen expect this year’s harvest to be bountiful after being impacted by COVID-19 in 2020

Local News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The coronavirus pandemic caused many issues for local oystermen last year with popular oyster roast simply not happening. But this year’s oyster harvest appears to be plentiful.

Paul Godbout, who runs Strictly Shellfish, said he’s been on the water in some fashion for much of his life and said picking oysters is part of who he is.

“Once it gets in your blood, I tell people I’ve got salt water running through my blood, this is my love. This is my passion, I passed it on to my kids,” he said.

Paul’s middle son, Ryan, picks oysters for the family business full-time.

“Born and raised here in Charleston. Son of a fisherman, passionate for it… I’ve been doing it for 11 years,” he said. “It is my 11th year picking oysters; it’s the best job in the whole world, I mean you see my office- it can get rough sometimes but it’s a decent way to make a living.”

The coronavirus pandemic hurt business in a big way.

“Last year it took a dive off a cliff. No one wanted to do an oyster roast because of COVID. The price on oysters was plummeting because we had excess stock and then there were so few beds open,” said Godbout.

He estimates he lost $30-$40k last year. But things have turned around quite dramatically.

“We’ve had a heck of a comeback this year. The Department of Natural Resources has done an amazing job opening up beds that hadn’t been opened in years. The Department of Health and Environmental Control makes sure our oysters are healthy.”

Godbout said he wouldn’t change his “office view” for anything. “Oystermen has just been a passion, we love it.”

Oyster season is underway in the Lowcountry and will continue through May 15. For more information on Strictly Shellfish, contact Paul at (843) 926-5137.

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