The 2021-2022 season for recreational harvest of shellfish (clams and oysters) in coastal waters of South Carolina opens one-half hour before official sunrise on October 1.
The recreational shellfish season remains open through May 15, 2022, unless conditions warrant extending or shortening the season.
In the event of another hurricane, major rain event, or pollution spill, shellfish beds may be temporarily closed by the South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control (DHEC). It is important for harvesters to check with DHEC to verify whether any closures are in effect. This information is available at 1-800-285-1618 and can be viewed on an interactive map at the DHEC website. DHEC will use these resources and your local newspaper throughout the year to announce temporary closures due to unusual rain events or spills.
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) maintains State Shellfish Grounds for commercial and recreational harvesting of clams and oysters.
Twenty Public Shellfish Grounds and 13 State Shellfish Grounds are managed exclusively for recreational gathering. An additional 52 State Shellfish Grounds are for recreational and commercial harvest.
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.
Download maps of designated harvest areas from the SCDNR website or access online through the Recreational Map Web Application. Call (843) 953-9854 to get a printed map or write the Shellfish Management Section, Attn: Ben Dyar, SCDNR, PO Box 12559, Charleston, SC 29422-2559. When requesting maps, please specify your general harvesting area. Recreational harvesters must have a Saltwater Recreational Fishing License, available from SCDNR, at many fishing supply stores, and online.
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. One U.S. bushel is equal to 8 gallons. There is a maximum possession of three personal limits per boat or vehicle. Clams must be at least 1 inch thick.
Call the Marine Permitting Office at (843) 953-0453 for additional information on commercial harvesting requirements.
SCDNR encourages harvesters to “cull in place.” Break off and leave dead shell and smaller oysters on the shoreline. Only take clusters or singles of larger oysters. Smaller oysters grow into adulthood and provide habitat for future generations.
If you enjoy eating oysters, remember to recycle your shells!
Check online or call (843) 953-9397 for recycling locations. SCDNR uses saltwater recreational fishing license revenues for renewable oyster resources. All shells collected by the SCDNR go to restore shellfish grounds in coastal South Carolina.
For additional information, contact: