MURRELLS INLET, SC (WMBF) - The 2015-2016 season for harvesting shellfish kicks off Thursday in South Carolina. This includes clams, oysters, and mussels.
"It's a great time! It's good for the family to do," exclaims Louie Gelormini with Fish Monger Seafood in Surfside Beach. "It's a day out and it's great rewards at the end, too."
The Department of Natural Resources maintains state shellfish grounds for commercial and recreational harvesting. All state-managed grounds are posted with boundary signs.
Some locals, like Gelormini, will wait until Thanksgiving to eat locally harvested oysters. That's when the water is colder. Gelormini says that will give you a more flavorful and plump oyster.
For recreational harvesters, here are some rules to keep in mind before you go hunting for oysters:
You must have a saltwater recreational fishing license (you can get these at regional DNR offices, online, and many fishing supply stores have them as well)
The recreational personal limit is 2 bushels of oysters and one half-bushel of clams in one day (and you can only do that 2 days in a week)
There is a maximum possession of three personal limits per boat or vehicle
Clams must be at least 1 inch in thickness
If you're harvesting commercially on state grounds, you're required to have:
A commercial saltwater license
A commercial shellfish harvester license
A permit for the specific harvest area
The shellfish season will remain open through May 15 of next year. If you're doing this recreationally, you should get an updated public or state map at the beginning of the season, as the areas open to harvest change from year to year. You can find those on the DNR's website or by calling 843-953-9854. When you're requesting a map, you need to specify the location where you want to harvest and be as detailed as possible. Maps are available starting today.
It is also important to recycle any shell waste. Click here for a list of recycling centers close to you.