Rejoice, the 2014-2015 season for harvesting shellfish — clams, oysters and other bivalves — in South Carolina's coastal waters has returned as of Wednesday, Oct. 1.
Below are more details from a release.
The season remains open through May 15, 2015.
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) maintains State Shellfish Grounds for commercial and recreational harvesting of clams and oysters. Twenty Public Shellfish Grounds and thirteen State Shellfish Grounds are managed exclusively for recreational gathering. An additional 53 State Shellfish Grounds are managed for recreational and commercial harvest. All state-managed grounds are posted with boundary signs. Areas designated as Shellfish Culture permits cannot be recreationally harvested unless the harvester has written permission from the permit holder in their possession.
Recreational harvesters should obtain updated Public or State Shellfish Ground maps at the beginning of each season, as areas open to harvest change from year to year. Maps of designated harvest areas may be downloaded from the DNRwebsite at www.dnr.sc.gov/marine/shellfish/shellfishmaps or may be obtained by calling (843) 953-9854 or writing the Shellfish Management Section, Attn: Ben Dyar, SCDNR, PO Box 12559, Charleston, SC 29422-2559. When requesting maps, please specify the general area where you wish to harvest. Maps for the 2014-15 season will be available by Sept. 25, 2014.
Recreational harvesters must have a Saltwater Recreational Fishing License, available from DNR, at many fishing supply stores, and online. To purchase a license online or to find list of license vendors visit www.dnr.sc.gov/purchase. The recreational limit is two U.S. bushels of oysters and one-half bushel of clams in any one day, limited to two calendar days per seven-day period. There is a maximum possession of three personal limits per boat or vehicle. Clams must be at least 1 inch in thickness. Additional rules and restrictions may be found in the DNR Rules and Regulations, available where licenses are purchased or online at http://www.eregulations.com/southcarolina/huntingandfishing.
South Carolina residents commercially harvesting on State Shellfish Grounds require a commercial saltwater license, a commercial shellfish harvester license, and a permit for the specific harvest area. Call (843) 953-0453 for additional information on commercial harvesting requirements.
All harvesters are encouraged to "cull in place", leaving dead shell and smaller oysters on the shoreline where they will continue to grow and provide habitat for future generations of oysters. Oyster consumers are encouraged to "Complete the Cycle" by recycling your shells. Visit saltwaterfishing.sc.gov/oyster.html or call (843) 953-9397 to find locations near you where shell can be dropped-off for recycling. DNR uses Saltwater Recreational Fishing License revenues to construct and enhance renewable oyster resources in the coastal counties by replanting recycled shell. All shell collected by the DNR is used to restore shellfish grounds in coastal South Carolina.
Season dates apply to both recreational and commercial shellfish harvesting. In the event of a hurricane, major rain event, or pollution spill, shellfish beds may be temporarily closed by the S.C. Department of Health & Environmental Control (DHEC). DHEC announces such closures in local media and makes the information available at 1-800-285-1618.