If you are anything like me, oyster roast season is one of your favorite Lowcountry cold weather traditions. If that’s the case, good news abounds! Oyster harvesting season opened October 1st! Keep reading to discover all the ways you can sustainability participate in oyster season, whether you are harvesting your own oysters right from the estuary or eating at one of the Lowcountry’s famed seafood restaurants. Make sure to refer to this blog post as a guide to ensure you enjoy South Carolina’s iconic oysters responsibly!
It’s always fun when you get to go out and harvest your own oysters fresh from the salt marsh. Make sure you follow these key tips to help protect this precious natural resource!
- Buy a saltwater fishing license– Money from these licenses goes back into restoring and conserving our marine resources.
- Check the recreational shellfish map– Ensure you are harvesting in an area where it is allowed and safe.
- Cull in place– Bring the proper equipment to break off any dead shells and smaller oysters from your clusters. They will provide habitat for future oysters to grow.
- Know your limits– Two bushels of oysters in one day, limited to two calendar days per seven-day period is the maximum take for recreational harvesting. One bushel is equal to 8 gallons. There is a maximum possession of three personal limits per boat or vehicle.
Oysters require shell fragments in order to grow new animals on a reef. To help sustain local oyster populations for generations to come, make a plan to recycle your shell before your at-home oyster roast. Dumping your shell back in the creek is not sustainable because the shells may carry disease that could impact growing populations. Instead, make sure you recycle your shell at one of SCDNR’s oyster shell recycling locations. Biologists will quarantine your shell to prevent the spread of any diseases, and then the shell will be replanted along our coast to ensure the maximum benefit for our future oysters and the health of our shorelines.
Interested in supporting South Carolina restaurants participating in responsible oyster recycling? You can check out this map to see if your favorite restaurant participates! Oysters are a critical part of South Carolina salt marshes and dinner tables.