Recreational Sea Shell Collecting
The following is a summary of regulations regarding the recreational collection of sea
shells in Florida.
Depending on whether or not the harvested sea shell contains a living organism, the type
of organism it contains and where you will be collecting, the recreational collection of sea
shells is permitted. A valid commercial saltwater products license is required to sell shells
containing live organisms.
All species of live clams, oysters and mussels are regulated under the National Shellfish
Sanitation Program. Oysters (68B-27, F.A.C. ) and hard clams (68B-17, F.A.C. ) can only be
harvested in accordance FWC rules, and all species of clam, oyster or mussel can only be
harvested from designated approved or conditionally approved shellfish harvesting areas
that are in the open status as determined by the Florida Department of Agriculture and
Consumer Services - Division of Aquaculture.
License Requirement: A Florida recreational saltwater fishing license (resident or non-
resident, whichever is applicable) is required in order to harvest a sea shell containing a
living organism, even when harvesting from shore. See shoreline fishing FAQs for more
The harvest of certain species may be limited or prohibited in state or federal parks,
national wildlife refuges and portions of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Interested persons should contact those park areas for further information.
Prohibited Species: All harvest of the Bahama Starfish (Oreaster reticulatis) is prohibited.
Possession of live Queen Conch (Strombus gigas) at any time is prohibited. It is not
unlawful to possess queen conch shells in Florida as long as the shells do not contain
any living queen conch at the time of collection, and so long as a living queen conch is not
killed, mutilated, or removed from its shell prior to collection. Possession of conch meat or
a queen conch shell having an off-center hole larger than 1/16 inch in diameter through its
spire is prohibited.
Bag Limits: Seasons, bag limits, and other regulations must be followed for species that
are regulated by the FWC, such as bay scallops even when these species are not
collected for food. The bag limit for marine life (tropical ornamental) species is 20
organisms per person per day. As of July 1, 2009, only five of any one marine life species
is allowed within the 20-organism marine life bag limit. For unregulated species, more
than 100 pounds or 2 fish per person per day (whichever is greater) is considered
commercial quantities and requires a saltwater products license.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission • Farris Bryant Building
620 S. Meridian St. • Tallahassee, FL
32399-1600 • (850) 488-4676
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