Oyster lovers, rejoice! Shellfish season opens on October 1st

Local News

The Eastern oyster plays a critical role in providing clean water, fish and crab habitat and storm protection in coastal South Carolina — as well as a tasty, sustainable seafood. (Photo: E. Weeks/SCDNR)

CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – We’re just weeks away from the official start of oyster season!

The 2020-2021 season for recreational harvest of shellfish, which includes clams and oysters, along the South Carolina coast will open a half hour before official sunrise on Thursday, October 1st, according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Officials with DNR say recreational harvesters must have a Saltwater Recreational Fishing License, which are available from SCDNR at many fishing supply stores and online.

The agency maintains State Shellfish Grounds for commercial and recreational harvesting of clams and oysters.

They say 20 of the Public Shellfish Grounds and 13 State Shellfish Grounds are managed exclusively for recreational gathering, and another 52 State Shellfish Grounds are managed for recreational and commercial harvest.

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.

The recreational shellfish season will remain open through May 15, 2021, unless conditions warrant extending or shortening the season.

A healthy oyster population depends on recycled oyster shells, which SCDNR staff collects and uses to rebuild South Carolina’s oyster reefs. Here, biologists ‘plant’ recycled and quarantined shell in a new location to encourage reef growth. (Photo: E. Weeks/SCDNR)

Tips for Recycling Your Oyster Shells

  • DO bring your shell to the nearest shell recycling center. Drop-off locations are available online. If a center is not shown near you, please call 843-953-9397.
  • DO separate shell from trash. Shell mixed with trash (including shell in bags or containers) is not suitable for recycling. If you host an oyster roast, please provide separate containers for shells and trash.
  • DON’T put live or freshly shucked oysters in South Carolina waters. If the oysters you purchased were harvested outside South Carolina, it is illegal to place them in SC waters. Placing live oysters in our waters can harm local oysters by spreading disease. To avoid contamination, shell should be recycled through SCDNR and properly quarantined.

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