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 get additional information by calling 850-617-7600.

Oysters

Min. Size Limit Bag limit Closed Seasons* 
3 inches

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

 

Apalachicola Bay Sept. 1-May 31, 2015:

5 gallons oyster in the shell is the daily recreational harvest, vessel and possession 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

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.

If the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) determines the area known as Cat Point (Area 1642) should be closed to harvest due to water-quality concerns, Area 1601, also known as Porters Bar and Platform Bar, and Area 1611, which includes Bayou Flats and Pickalene Bar, will also close.

Hard Clams

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

 

Min. Size Limit Bag 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:
Florida bass build nests for spawning and protect their young until they reach about 1 inch in size.

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