Opening of recreational shellfish season delayed, Irma to blame

Shellfish season open delayed, Irma to blame (WPDE)

For seafood lovers who like eating fresh and like to go out and get their own oysters, you'll have to wait a little while longer for shellfish season to start this year. Experts say it can all be blamed on Hurricane Irma.

Recreational shell fishing season will start on Oct. 15, which is a couple of weeks later than usual because of high levels of bacteria.

Some shell fishermen say maybe a delay isn't so bad after all.

Other than the sound of the birds, the oyster beds in Murrells Inlet have been pretty quiet, not many people, and it will be this way longer than usual,they said.

"It doesn't bother me to wait for a while," said Rick Baumann, founder of Murrells Inlet Seafood.

It's because the health department found high bacteria levels in some shellfish areas after Irma.

Normally, you'd find Baumann around this time of year in the inlet looking for oysters.

"Recreational shell fishing is a tradition that I've enjoyed since 1967," he said.

For 50 years he's been doing it and he plans to keep doing it. He said he just hopes that, during those extra two weeks, the temperature will drop a bit.

"Makes the quality of the shellfish harvested that much better. Plus, when you go out there in this hot weather, you've got the no-see-ems to contend with, black flies, and mosquitoes and everything else like that," Baumann said.

The Department of Natural Resources has an interactive map to show you places where you can shellfish once the season opens.

DNR says to make sure you check the maps because some of those areas change year-to-year.

"Getting out there and getting muddy and getting some fresh shellfish is just the bomb. It's the perfect thing to do on a chilly fall or winter day, giving those birds a little more company and making those oysters worth the wait."

RELATED: Recycled oyster shells open up area to new potential for growth

Once oyster season begins, DNR would like you to help them rebuild South Carolina's oyster reefs by recycling your oyster shells.

For the nearest drop-off locations to you, click here.

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