The 2019-2020 season for recreational harvesting of shellfish (oysters and clams) in coastal South Carolina waters will begin one half-hour before sunrise on Sat. Sept. 28. The season will remain open through May 15 2020 unless conditions warrant extending or shortening the season.

In the event of hurricanes, major rain events, or pollution spill, shellfish beds may be temporarily closed. The South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control (DHEC) encourages harvesters to check whether any closures are in effect by calling 1 (800) 285-1616 or by viewing an interactive map on the DHEC website.


Areas open to harvest change from year to year, so recreational harvesters are encouraged to obtain updated public or state shellfish ground maps at the beginning of the season. Maps of designated harvest areas may be downloaded from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) website or accessed online through a recreational map web application. Printed maps are also available by calling (843) 953-9854 and specifying the general area where you wish to harvest.

A Saltwater Recreational Fish License is required for recreational harvesters. Licensing is available through the SCDNR, at many fishing supply stores, and online. Harvesters are limited to two U.S. bushels (1 bushel=8 gallons) 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 one inch in thickness to harvest. Additional rules and restrictions may be found online.

For those interested in commercial harvesting of shellfish, call the Marine Permitting Office at (843) 953-0453 for more information.

All harvesters are encouraged to “cull in place,” by leaving the dead shells 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 recycle their shells at nearby locations. All shells collected by the SCDNR are used to restore shellfish grounds in coastal South Carolina.