Eat oysters responsibly

AUTHOR
Expert from the Coastal Conservation League talks all things bivalves as oyster season kicks into high gear.


By Rachel Hawes

 

 

Be an informed consumer by asking your local restaurant if they recycle their oyster shells — applauding them if they do and encouraging them to do so if they don’t.

 

Nothing says the start of the holiday season in the Lowcountry more than enjoying a bushel of local oysters with friends and family. Save this email as a guide to ensure you enjoy these delicious bivalves responsibly this winter season.

 

Harvesting Your Own Oysters - Best Practices

 

So, you’re interested in harvesting your own oysters? Think they taste better knowing you, individually, hand-selected your own clusters? I don’t blame you. Here are a few key rules to know before you go!

 

  1. Buy asaltwater fishing license– Money from these licenses goes back into restoring and conserving our marine resources.
  2. Check therecreational shellfish map– Ensure you are harvesting in an area where it is allowed and safe.
  3. 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.
  4. Know your limits– Two bushels of oysters in one day, limited to two calendar days per seven-day period. One bushel is equal to 8 gallons. There is a maximum possession of three personal limits per boat or vehicle.

 

Recycling Your Oyster Shell

 

You’re done with your backyard oyster roast, and you’ve heard about the importance of the shell going back into our waterways to create habitat for future oysters to grow. So, you’re going to go to your closest waterway and dump the shell yourself, right? Wrong! This is illegal and can harm local oysters by spreading diseases.

 

Nothing says the start of the holiday season in the Lowcountry more than enjoying a bushel of local oysters with friends and family.

 

While we think we may know where and how to place these oyster shells in our creeks, it’s best to leave that to the biologists. Recycle your shell at one of these SCDNR oyster shell recycling locations. Biologists will quarantine your shell to prevent the spread of any diseases, and then the shell will be replanted on our shorelines to ensure the maximum benefit not only for our future oysters but for our shorelines as well.

 

Oyster roast and hot sauce on a wooden table

 

What if I prefer to eat my oysters at a restaurant?

 

Be an informed consumer by asking your local restaurant if they recycle their oyster shells — applauding them if they do and encouraging them to do so if they don’t. You can also view a current list of participating restaurantshere.

 

What else?

 

Getting involved:Add your name to the list if you are interested in receiving the Conservation League’s communications related to marine resources.Learn more about our oyster work: Visit theOyster project pageon the Conservation League website. Have more questions? Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me atrachelh@scccl.org.

 

Photos: bauhaus1000 / iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images