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September 20, 2010

Shellfish season will open Oct. 1

The 2010-2011 season for harvesting oysters and clams will open Friday, Oct. 1.

Oyster and clam seasons will remain open through May 15, 2011, unless conditions warrant extending or shortening the seasons. Season dates apply to both recreational and commercial shellfish harvesting. Shellfish harvesters may begin gathering oysters and clams on designated areas one-half hour before official sunrise until one-half hour after official sundown.

Harvesters should be aware the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) will close shellfish beds by specific coastal county if an area is placed under a hurricane warning or other significant rain event. Fishers are encouraged to check the status of shellfish bed closures by calling 1-800-285-1618.

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 managedOyster bed 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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