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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
    information.

    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.

    Source:
    Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission • Farris Bryant Building
    620 S. Meridian St. • Tallahassee, FL
    32399-1600 • (850) 488-4676
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