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The state’s 2019-2020 season for harvesting oysters, mussels, and clams from public grounds ends on May 31. Following cooler temperatures in the fall, shellfish harvesting will be expected to reopen on the first of October.
“Because higher bacterial levels occur when water temperatures exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit, shellfish harvesting during the summer months is limited to commercial harvesters who can meet rigorous handling requirements,” reports the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. “Coastal waters will remain closed to recreational shellfish harvesting until the fall when water temperatures begin to cool and ensure that shellfish are once again safe for harvesting and consumption.”
Personal shellfish collecting was affected this season due after Gov. Henry McMaster made the call to close all public beach access points and docks in the state on March 30. The order was lifted on April 20, but some sections of the state’s coastline started reopening as recently as last week. Charleston-area communities like James Island and Sullivan Island have eased up restrictions for public beaches and docks more gradually.
The South Carolina Oyster Recycling and Enhancement program accepts recycled oyster shells throughout the year. For more information on the program and on drop-off locations, click here.