Marine - Shellfish

Recreational Harvest

Provided by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Office of Fisheries Management, Shellfish Management Program.

License Requirements:

Recreational harvest of shellfish (clams, oysters and other molluscan bivalves) requires a South Carolina Saltwater Fishing License ($10 resident/$35 non-resident). This license is not required for individuals less than 16 years of age or residents holding a valid Gratis Over 65 or Gratis Disability License. Users also have the option of purchasing a 3-year license for three times the one-year cost.

Harvesting area:

Shellfish may be harvested recreationally from State Shellfish grounds (labeled with an S) and Public Shellfish grounds (labeled with an R) with a Saltwater Recreational Fishing License. License must be in possession while harvesting. Most Public (recreational-only) and State shellfish grounds are marked with signs. Recreational harvesting is allowed on Culture Permit grounds only when the harvester has in possession written permission from the Culture Permit holder.

Maps of recreational grounds are available online or by calling (843) 953-9854.

Season:

October 1 through May 15, unless conditions warrant shortening or extending the season. Check your local newspaper or call the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources at (843) 953-9300.

It is illegal to harvest shellfish between 1/2 hour after official sunset and 1/2 hour before official sunrise.

Limit on Catch:

Two U.S. Bushels of oysters and/or one-half U.S. Bushel of clams may be harvested per person, per day. Clams must be at least one inch thick. 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.

Gear Restrictions:

It is unlawful to use scoops, scrapes tongs, or dredges to take shellfish without a permit.

Status of Shellfish Grounds:

Closed - SCDHEC:

Some State Shellfish Grounds and Public Shellfish Grounds have been closed by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control because of elevated fecal coliforms bacteria. These areas should be posted with yellow warning signs.

Conditional - SCDHEC:

Some State Shellfish Grounds may be closed temporarily by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control because of elevated coliform bacteria caused by heavy rainfall. Conditional areas are not always posted with white warning signs. Check with SCDHEC at 1-800-285-1618 before harvesting.

Shell Recycling:

Oyster shells are collected throughout the coastal area and reused for shellfish culture. For further information about oyster shell recycling, please call Ben Dyar, Oyster Shell Recycling Program Coordinator; (843) 953-9397 or you may contact the Program by e-mail at dyarb@dnr.sc.gov.