The 2015-2016 season for harvesting shellfish (clams, oysters, mussels and other bivalves) in coastal waters of South Carolina will open one half hour before official sunrise on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. The shellfish season will remain open through May 15, 2016, unless conditions warrant extending or shortening the season. Season dates apply to both recreational and commercial shellfish harvesting. In the event of a hurricane, major rain event or pollution spill, shellfish beds may be temporarily closed by the S.C. Department of Health & Environmental Control (DHEC). DHEC announces such closures in the local media 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 shellfish. Twenty Public Shellfish Grounds and 13 State Shellfish Grounds are managed exclusively for recreational gathering. An additional 53 State Shellfish Grounds are managed for recreational and commercial harvest. All state-managed grounds are posted with boundary signs. Shellfish Culture Permit areas may not 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 the 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 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 location where you wish to harvest, being as detailed as possible. Maps for the 2015-16 season will be available by Oct. 1, 2015.
Recreational harvesters must have a saltwater recreational fishing license, available at regional DNR offices, at many fishing supply stores, online, and by phone (1-866-714-3611). To purchase a license online or to find list of license vendors visit www.dnr.sc.gov/purchase. The recreational personal 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, available where licenses are purchased or online at http://www.eregulati...ntingandfishing.
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 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 recycle their shells. Visit saltwaterfishing.sc.gov/oyster.html or 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 DNR is used to restore shellfish grounds in coastal South Carolina.