Recreational Shellfish Harvest

oyster dam

Regulations:

Oysters and clams can only be collected from approved recreational harvest areas.

License Requirements: A Georgia Fishing License and a free Saltwater Information Program (SIP) Permit is required to collect Oysters and Clams for recreational purposes. Shellfish must be harvested between the hours of 1/2 hour before official sunrise and 1/2 hour beyond official sunset. Shellfish may only be collected with handheld implements. Recreationally harvested shellfish may NOT be sold.

Prior to harvest in the approved areas, check with the Georgia DNR Shellfish Sanitation Program for annual season closures and for areas that have been posted as prohibited due to restoration efforts.


Harvesting Limits:

 Oysters must measure no less than 3 inches from hinge to mouth, unless the oyster cannot be removed from a legal sized oyster without destroying it.

For clams, the maximum depth from one shell half to the other must be at least 3/4 of an inch thick.

Recreational quantity limits are up to 2 bushels of oysters and 1 bushel of clams per person per day, with a maximum limit of 6 bushels of oysters and 1 bushel of clams per boat per day.


Season:

Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp) is a naturally occurring bacteria found in filter-feeding shellfish. It occurs at higher concentrations during the months of the year when coastal water temperatures exceed 81 degrees Fahrenheit. To protect public health, oyster harvest is closed from June 1 through September 30 every year, unless conditions warrant shortening or extending the season. The harvest of clams from approved shellfish harvesting areas is permitted year-round. Unlike oysters, which are frequently consumed raw, clams are traditionally cooked with high heat – a process that kills the Vp bacteria.


Locations:

Recreational Harvest Areas are located in the following counties, click the links below for a map of each county’s recreational harvest area(s).

You can also use our Recreational Shellfish Harvest Web App to locate Recreational Harvest Areas. This web app can be used on mobile devices and show your current location relative to Recreational Harvest Areas to ensure you are harvesting from approved and monitored locations!


Safety:

CRD tests shellfish harvest waters monthly for harmful bacteria. If bacteria levels in the water are at levels dangerous for consumption, CRD will close the area until the bacteria levels return to normal. For current harvest area status information, call the Shellfish and Water Quality Program at (912)264-7218.

Please visit http://safeoysters.org/ or view this Georgia Shellfish Product Safety Guidelines for Shellfish Harvesters Pamphlet for more information on the safe harvest and consumption of shellfish.


Reef Conservation:

CRD highly encourages culling in place or removing dead shells or small oysters attached to harvested oysters and leaving the shell material on the shoreline. This process provides additional habitat for future generations of oysters to grow.

If you partake in recreational shellfish harvesting, remember to recycle your shells! Recycled shell material is used by the department to enhance and restore oyster reefs throughout the state to enhance essential fish habitat, increase water quality, and provide bank stabilization among other ecosystem benefits. Oyster recycling facilities are available at CRD Headquarters and Champney River Boat Ramp. Please contact the department at (912) 264-7218 for additional information about shell recycling.