Commercial Shellfish Harvest

 

In Georgia, commercial shellfish harvesters participate in wild harvest and mariculture of both Eastern Oysters and Hard Clams. The Coastal Resources Division Shellfish and Water Quality Program is responsible for permitting commercial harvest areas, offering leases for commercial shellfish harvest, and monitoring the water quality in shellfish growing areas among other shellfish-related activities. For more information on the Program and the requirements of shellfish farmers in Georgia, please view the most recent version of the Shellfish Policy Manual below:

Status Update: As of 12/9/2021, cage permits and fees are temporarily suspended. 

Shellfish Policy Manual Version 1.1 (May 2021)


General Regulations for Commercial Shellfish Harvesting

Shellfish are defined as clams, oysters, mussels, or any bivalve mollusk inhabiting the coastal estuaries, marshes or beaches of coastal Georgia.  Commercial shellfish harvest or culture is only permitted on leases acknowledged and permitted by the State of Georgia.

All shellfish must be harvested between the hours of ½ hour before official sunrise and ½ hour after official sunset and may only be taken by hand or with handheld implements.

Minimum Harvest Sizes:

Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) – 2 inches, hinge to mouth

Hard Clam (Mercenaria mercenaria) – ¾ inch depth (perpendicular to hinge)


Leasing Opportunities

Current commercial leasing opportunities will be posted at the top of this webpage. Additionally, please visit https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/gadnr/subscriber/new and be sure to select "Shellfish Leasing Updates and Opportunities" under the Coastal Resources category to subscribe to email updates regarding leasing opportunities.

An online leasing map is under development and will be available in 2022. This tool will include information on vacant and occupied leases including locations, aerial imagery, acreages, designated uses and more. Until then, please check this website for information or subscribe to updates as described above.


Commercial Shellfish Interest Survey

Please click here to take our Commercial Shellfish Interest Survey. The data collected in this survey will be used to notify interested parties of applicable commercial shellfish opportunities, to determine where to direct efforts and resources toward identifying potential lease sites, and to determine which types of leasing opportunities to provide (intertidal wild harvest, intertidal mariculture, or subtidal mariculture). Your input is greatly appreciated!


Contact Information

For questions concerning commercial shellfish operations, please contact the CRD Shellfish and Water Quality Program at (912)264-7218.

For assistance and other questions about the HACCP certification process and obtaining a Georgia Shellfish Sanitation Certificate, a Georgia Wholesale Fish Dealer License, or a Food Sales Establishment License, contact the Seafood Safety Office at the following number:

Georgia Department of Agriculture – Seafood Safety Office

(404)657-4801


Other Information and Links

Georgia Code of Regulations

Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference

National Shellfish Sanitation Program

United States Food and Drug Administration Certified Shellfish Shippers

Coastal Resources Division Shellfish and Water Quality Monitoring Program

Georgia Department of Agriculture Consumer Safety Division