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Oysters and clams

Update

Harvest of all wild oysters from Apalachicola Bay are temporarily suspended and on-the-water possession of wild oyster harvesting equipment (tongs) is prohibited. This does not apply to oyster aquaculture operations. Staff will bring this item back before the Commission in the future for final consideration and, if approved, these measures will remain in place through Dec. 31, 2025. In addition, the FWC will be working alongside stakeholders and the local oyster industry to conduct a 5-year project made of multiple components including the development a of stakeholder-informed oyster fishery management plan, and restoration cultching or spreading shell to create oyster habitat on more than 1,000 acres of oyster reef habitat.

Learn more

Allowable shellfish (oysters, clams) harvesting areas are established and managed for public health purposes by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Aquaculture. Shellfish harvesting areas are opened and closed in accordance with the National Shellfish Sanitation Program Guidelines, and the open or closed status applies to both recreational and commercial harvest. 

All harvest prohibited when shellfish harvesting areas are in the closed status as determined by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. 

You may view maps of these areas and determine the open or closed status at: www.floridaaquaculture.com or Shellfish Harvest Areas Map

If using the Shellfish Harvest Areas Map, be sure to click on your area below for daily status updates: 

  • Western Gulf: from Pensacola Bay in Escambia County to East Bay in Bay County
  • Central Gulf: from St. Joseph Bay in Gulf County to Wakulla County
  • Big Bend Gulf: from Horseshoe Beach in Dixie County to Citrus County
  • Southern Gulf: from Boca Ciega Bay in Pinellas County to Ten Thousand Islands in Collier County
  • Atlantic Coast: from the Fort Pierce Inlet in St. Lucie County to the Tolomato River in St. Johns County

For additional information call 850-617-7600.

Oysters Apalachicola Bay

NEW: Harvest of all wild oysters from Apalachicola Bay is temporarily suspended and on-the-water possession of wild oyster harvesting equipment (tongs) is prohibited. This does not apply to oyster aquaculture operations. Learn more. 

*Apalachicola Bay includes St. George Sound, East Bay, Apalachicola Bay, and St. Vincent Sound and their canals, channels, rivers and creeks; and Indian Lagoon and its canals, channels, rivers and creeks. 

 

Oysters Rest of State

Minimum Size Limit: 3 inches

Daily Bag Limit: Two 60-pound bags per person or vessel, whichever is less, except in the Apalachicola Bay area. 

Season: 

  • Closed June 1-Aug. 31 in Dixie, Levy and Wakulla counties
  • Closed July 1-Sept. 30 in all other counties

 

Hard Clams

(any species of the genus Mercenaria, also known as quahog)

Minimum Size Limit: 1-inch thick across the hinge

Daily Bag Limit: one 5-gallon bucket per person or two per vessel, whichever is less, per day.

Season: Open year-round.

Can oysters and barnacles be used as bait or chum for sheepshead?

Yes, so long as you are adhering to the regulations for each species.

Oysters and barnacles are very different when it comes to regulations.

Oysters have closed seasons, bag limits, size limits and can only be legally harvested in specific shellfish harvesting areas that are classified as "approved" or "conditionally approved" and in the "open" status. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Aquaculture manages these shellfish harvesting areas.

Barnacles on the other hand do not have size limits or specified bag limits, which means that you can harvest up to 100 pounds per person per day with a recreational saltwater fishing license and you can use them to chum sheepshead. You can also simply scrape them off bridge piles and allow them to sink and attract sheepshead. Do not scrape barnacles from private docks or other private structures without permission of the property owner.