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#06-313 November 13, 2006

State of clams report now on DNR web site

An update on the status of South Carolina’s clam resource is now available on the S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ Web site.

The report provides an update on the status of clam resources in South Carolina, and is accessible at: www.dnr.sc.gov/marine/publications.html. The updates are the result of resource assessments during the 2004-2005 harvesting season by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Shellfish Management Program. Resource reports and updates are prepared to inform the public of the condition of important coastal species.

In South Carolina, clams are harvested commercially and recreationally, and a viable mariculture industry also exists. During the 2004-2005 season, 114 areas were designated as culture permitClams areas, and 24 State Shellfish Grounds were opened for commercial clam harvesting. According to Bill Anderson, manager of DNR’s Shellfish Management Program, “Our resource assessments indicate that clams are plentiful in many feeder creeks of State Shellfish Grounds. Farm-raised clams from mariculture permits have reduced the harvest pressure on wild clams.” Just over 40 clam mariculture permits were active over the 2004-2005 harvesting season.

Of the State Shellfish Grounds assessed at the close of the 2004-2005 season, biologists with DNR’s Shellfish Management Program noted that three had declined in quality, seven remain unchanged and 12 had improved since the previous assessment. This prompted the DNR to close five of those areas and open 38 State Shellfish Grounds for commercial clam harvesting for the 2005-2006 season. An additional six were set aside for recreational clam harvesting.

Landings approximated 49,000 bags of clams during the course of the 2004-2005 commercial harvest season, a value of more than $957,700 and represented an 8 percent dollar value decrease from the previous harvest season’s sales. Reported clam landings from culture permits and mariculture permits increased from around 30,000 bags to around 38,000 bags.

The season for harvesting clams typically spans from Sept. 16 through May 15, and may be shortened or extended by the DNR. Shellfish may be harvested recreationally from State Shellfish Grounds and Public Shellfish Grounds. Recreational harvesting is allowed on Culture Permit Grounds, but only when the harvester has in possession written permission from the Culture permit holder. A person may harvest recreationally no more than two days per seven-day period, and a Saltwater Recreational
Fishing License is required. The recreational harvest limit is one half bushel per day, but not more than two days over a seven day period with a three-person harvest limit per boat or vehicle. Clams less than 1 inch in thickness cannot be legally gathered.

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