Recreational Shellfish Harvesting

Allowable shellfish (oysters, clams, mussels) 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. 

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

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

  • 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

Min. Size LimitBag limitClosed Seasons* 
3 inches

Statewide: Two 60-pound bags per person or per vessel

 

Apalachicola Bay through June 30, 2018:

5 gallons in shell per person or vessel, whichever is less, recreational limit

June, July and August in Dixie, Levy and Wakulla counties

July, August and September all other counties

Apalachicola Bay:

East Hole closed to harvest, except on Mondays

Sept. 1, 2017-June 30, 2018: No harvest on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays

Apalachicola Bay (as defined in Rule 68B-27.013(1), F.A.C. icon_external.png) has specific closed seasons as determined by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

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

Hard Clams

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

 

Min. Size LimitBag limit Closed Seasons*   
1-inch thick across the hinge one 5-gallon bucket per person or two per vessel, whichever is less, per day.   None

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

 

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

Oysters and barnacles are very, 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 External Website 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.



FWC Facts:
While native to South America, peacock bass have been stocked in South Florida canals and have become a very popular game fish.

Learn More at AskFWC