** Archived Article - please check for current information. **

October 1, 2010

High bacteria levels due to heavy rain close numerous shellfish grounds

Numerous shellfish harvesting areas along the South Carolina coast have been closed by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) due to this week's heavy rainfall.

All of the shellfish harvesting areas of Georgetown and Horry counties have been closed. DHEC also closed the harvesting areas in the northern end of Charleston County between South Santee River and Moore's Landing. Areas close to Hilton Head Island and Pinckney Island have also been closed. The areas will remain closed until water quality sampling indicates bacteria levels are safe for shellfish harvesting.

For information on shellfish areas in Horry and Georgetown counties, call DHEC's Region 6 Environmental Quality Control office at (843) 238-4378. For more information on Charleston County shellfish beds, call DHEC's Region 7 EQC office at (843) 953-0160. For information on shellfish areas in Beaufort County, call DHEC's Region 8 Environmental Quality Control office at (843) 846-1030.

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) maintains 59 State Shellfish Grounds for commercial and recreational harvesting of clams and oysters. Twenty Public Shellfish Grounds are managed exclusively for recreational gathering and are posted with boundary signs. Recreational harvesters must have a saltwater fishing license ($10 for residents, $35 for non-residents).  The recreational limit is two U.S. bushels of oysters and one-half bushel of clams in any one day. 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. Clams must be at least 1 inch in thickness.

Recreational harvesters should obtain updated Public or State Shellfish Ground maps at the beginning of each season, as boundaries may be modified from time to time or areas may be opened or closed by DHEC due to pollution. Maps, listed by county, for these areas are downloadable or may be obtained by calling (843) 953-9854.

South Carolina residents commercially harvesting on State Shellfish Grounds require a commercial saltwater license ($25), a commercial shellfish harvester license ($75) and a permit for the specific State Shellfish Ground. Call (843) 953-9301 or (843) 953-9311 for additional information on commercial harvesting requirements. 

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