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

May 5, 2016Oyster season to close May 15, clam season to close May 31

South Carolina's season for oysters and mussels will close on Sunday, May 15, at one half hour after official sunset, according to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. Clam season will close on Tuesday, May 31 at one half hour after official sunset.

Because of higher bacterial levels that occur when water temperatures exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit, shellfish harvesting is prohibited during the summer months. Coastal waters will remain closed to recreational and commercial shellfish harvesting for oysters and clams until the fall when water temperatures begin to cool making the shellfish once again safe for harvesting and consumption. Shellfish harvesting is expected to reopen October 1, 2016.

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) maintains dozens of State Shellfish Grounds for commercial and recreational harvesting of clams and oysters. Twenty Public Shellfish Grounds are managed exclusively for recreational gathering. Each year wild stock oysters and clams valued at $3 million are landed in the states commercial shellfish fishery alone.

DNR's oyster shell recycling and replanting program continues its efforts to encourage the public to recycle their oyster shells. Oyster shell recycling drop-off locations are located throughout coastal counties, and collection sites can be found online. During the summer months, DNR returns the recycled shells to shorelines, where it provides an ideal base for larval oysters to attach, thereby replenishing the harvested beds. When the quantity of shell needed to replant shellfish grounds exceeds those that are recycled, DNR must purchase shells from other vendors. Saltwater recreational fishing license sales provide funding for DNR's shellfish restoration and enhancement efforts.

Late spring and early summer are also the busiest months for DNR's community oyster restoration program. The public is invited to work with DNR staff and other volunteers to create oyster habitat in areas that are not harvestable. The resulting oyster reefs will provide a host of ecological services including water filtration, nutrient cycling, and habitat for fish and invertebrates. E-mail the community restoration staff at score@dnr.sc.gov for an upcoming schedule of events.

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