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#07-85 March 26, 2007

Coastal forums seek input from shellfish harvesters

A series of coastal forums March 27-29 will provide an opportunity to gather suggestions from shellfish harvesters for areas to plant oyster shells during the upcoming planting season.

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will host the forums and seek input from recreational and commercial shellfish harvesters, as well as from individuals interested in offering ideas for areas to place shells on public grounds. The public forums will be located at the following times and locations:

For more information on the coastal forums, call DNR in Charleston at (843) 953-3367.

Shell planting season spans from late spring through the summer months, and DNR anticipates planting around 40,000 bushels of recycled and purchased shells on public grounds this year. The planting is part of an ongoing project funded by revenue from the Recreational Saltwater Fishing License program to enhance recreational shellfish harvesting opportunities. Since 2000, DNR has planted nearly 171,000 bushels of shells on public grounds, and with the shell recycling program increasing in popularity, DNR hopes to continue planting at increased levels on a yearly basis.

Free-swimming larval oysters are most prolific in the tidal creeks during the spring and summer months and seek a hard surface to attach and begin their lives as juvenile oysters. Recycled shells can boost oyster populations and ensure a sustainable shellfish harvest. In addition, oyster reefs provide critical habitat for shrimp, crabs, marine worms and finfish. Oysters also offer ecosystem services by filtering estuarine waters and inhibiting shoreline erosion.
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