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Get out those clam diggers: Shellfish season opens Oct. 1 in South Carolina

Department of Natural Resources announces opening of 2021 clam and oyster season along the SC coast.
Credit: E.Weeks/SCDNR

CHARLESTON, S.C. — South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) announced the 2021-2022 season for the recreational harvest of shellfish along the South Carolina coast will officially begin Friday, Oct. 1, 2021.

Clams and oysters can be harvested one hour before sunrise (approximately 6:20 a.m.) on Oct. 1 and the season will remain open through May 15, 2022, barring any conditions warranting the extension or shortening of the season.

There are 20 public shellfish grounds and 13 state shellfish grounds maintained by SCDNR that are exclusively for recreational gathering. An additional 52 state shellfish grounds are managed for both recreational and commercial harvesting. All state-managed grounds are posted with boundary signs.

If you would like to harvest your own fresh clams or oysters, you will need to obtain a Saltwater Recreational Fishing license and updated Public or State Shellfish Ground maps (as areas change year to year). Licenses can be purchased from SCDNR, online and local fishing supply stores with resident licenses ranging from $10/14-day license to $45/3-years.

Maps of current designated harvest areas can be downloaded from the SCDNR website or accessed online through the Recreational Map Web Application. Paper maps can be purchased 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 2021-22 season will be available prior to season opening on October 1, 2021.

Other things to keep in mind:

Recreational harvest limit is two U.S. bushels of oysters (eight gallons) and one-half bushel of clams in any one day, limited to two calendar days per seven-day period

Maximum possession of three personal limits per boat or vehicle

Clams must be at least one inch thick

Weather events (hurricanes, major rain event, pollution spill, etc.) may temporarily close shellfish beds. Check on closures by calling 1-800-285-1618 or online at SC's Department of Heath and Environmental Control's (DHEC's) interactive website

Don't forget to recycle your shells! Call (843) 953-9367 or check online to find a recycling site near you.