The coastal waters of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina are fertile grounds to promote the growth and harvesting of oysters. The three southeastern states are home to the eastern oyster. While oysters find their way on local menus thanks to commercial fishers, recreational anglers also join in the action of harvesting fresh bivalves. Learn what you need to know about harvesting oysters in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. 

What Months Are Oyster Season

The oyster season varies based on the state. North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia all fall under varying seasons determined by the state’s department of natural resources. 

First, it is essential to understand that each state has designated locations for harvesting live oysters. It is illegal to remove oysters from areas outside of the harvesting zones. 

While the seasons vary for many reasons, including water sample tests and population management, the department of natural resources determines the oyster harvesting season.


In Georgia, the oyster season most often runs between October 1st and June 1st. Avoid harvesting oysters outside of the season.

South Carolina

Just north of Georgia, in South Carolina, the oyster ranges between September and April; however, this varies based on varying circumstances. 

North Carolina

While North Carolina is farther north than South Carolina, the season begins later despite cooler temperatures. Plan to catch oysters in North Carolina between the middle of October and the end of March. 

What Months Should You Avoid Oysters

Avoid oysters between June and September in the states of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. 

During the heat of the summer, the bacteria levels are high. Elevated levels of bacteria pose a risk when consumed. Avoid eating oysters to prevent sickness. 

Can You Eat Oysters All Year-Round

Oysters are edible year-round when harvested from northern waters and served in restaurants or sold in seafood markets. One of the most popular methods of cooking oysters is by preparing an oyster roast

Do not harvest oysters unless you are in the cool months, generally between October and May in the southern states. 

Why Can You Eat Oysters Only In Months With R

Not to be redundant the issue with the months that do not end in R is the fact that the water temperatures are high. High water temperatures increase bacteria levels. The summer heat in the southern states is extreme and causes the water to become filled with bacteria. 

Unless the month ends with an R, do not eat the oysters harvested from South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgias waters. 

Visit a local restaurant for fresh oysters outside of the southern states during the summer months. 

Are Oysters Alive When Eaten

Fresh oysters, whether purchased from a restaurant, seafood market or harvested by anglers, are alive. 

An oyster that has died and remains in its shell without being cooked is not safe for consumption. 

The fresh taste of an oyster is because the bivalve remains alive to maximize the taste and texture. 

To determine if an oyster is alive, gently tap your finger on the upper shell. A live oyster will change from an open position to a closed position concealing the meat. 

Oysters stored under the proper condition remain moist and cold and live up to two weeks after harvesting. 

Are You prepared For Oyster Season

Avoid traveling to Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina during the summer months if you plan to go oystering. Oyster season is best during the cold winters months because the bacteria levels are low. Remember to obtain a saltwater fishing license and harvest oysters in areas designated by the state. Lastly, and most importantly, enjoy the taste of fresh oysters.