SC Recreational Shellfish Harvesting Regulations

Provided by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Office of Fisheries Management, Shellfish Management Program.

Shellfish Grounds may be closed to harvest after storm events or marine spill. Please check with SCDHEC for the latest information on closure status. You can also call the SCDHEC shellfish hotline at 1-800-285-1618 or visit their news releases webpage.

License Requirements:

A South Carolina Saltwater Recreational Fishing License is required for individuals catching, attempting to catch, or landing shellfish (oysters or clams). This stamp is not required for individuals less than 16 years of age or residents holding a valid Gratis Over 65 or Gratis Disability License. Annual licenses cost $10.00 for residents and $35.00 for nonresidents. South Carolina residents commercially harvesting on State Shellfish Grounds require a commercial saltwater license ($25.00), a commercial shellfish harvester license ($75.00) and a permit for the specific State Shellfish Ground obtained from the Marine Resources Division's permit coordinator (843-953-9311).

License Fee
Annual Resident Saltwater License $10.00
Annual Nonresident Saltwater License $35.00
Commercial Saltwater License $25.00
Commercial Shell Harvester License $75.00
State Shellfish Grounds Permit (Choice of 5 grounds with Shellfish Harvester License)
Contact - (843) 953-9311


September 16 through May 15, unless conditions warrant shortening or extending the season. Check your local newspaper or call the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources at (843)953-9300.

Limit on Catch:

Two U.S. Bushels of oysters and/or one-half U.S. Bushel of clams may be harvested per person, per day. Clams must be at least one inch thick. No person may gather more than one personal limit of shellfish on more than two calendar days per any seven day period. There is a maximum possession limit of three personal limits per boat or vehicle or boat and vehicle combination.

Gear Restrictions:

It is unlawful to use scoops, scrapes or dredges to take shellfish recreationally.

Closed - SCDHEC:

Some State Shellfish Grounds and Public Shellfish Grounds have been closed by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control because of elevated fecal coliforms bacteria. These areas should be posted with yellow warning signs.

Conditional - SCDHEC:

Some State Shellfish Grounds may be closed temporarily by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control because of elevated coliform bacteria caused by heavy rainfall. Conditional areas are not always posted with white warning signs. Check with SCDHEC at (843)740-1590 before harvesting.

Miscellaneous Laws:

Shellfish (oysters and clams) may be recreationally harvested by anyone from Public and State Shellfish Grounds with a Saltwater Recreational Fishing License. Harvesting from areas under a commercial shellfish culture permit are prohibited without written permission from the permit holder. Written permission and a Saltwater Recreational Fishing License must be in the harvester's possession when gathering shellfish from the shellfish culture permit area.

It is illegal to harvest shellfish between 1/2 hour after official sunset and 1/2 hour before official sunrise.