Department of Environmental Conservation

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Shellfish Harvesting Regulations

Harvest Areas

Clams, oysters, mussels and scallops may be taken only from areas designated by DEC as certified (or open) for the harvest of clams, oysters, mussels and scallops.

Use the DEC Public Shellfish Mapper to find areas that are open to shellfishing. This interactive map shows shellfish closures, conditional harvesting programs, shellfish harvest zones, aquaculture lease sites and water sampling stations. Check the Official Descriptions of all Shellfish Closures (Part 41) for uncertified (or closed) areas.


  • Bay scallops may be taken only from the first Monday in November through March 31.
  • All clams, oysters, mussels and other scallops may be taken all year from areas open to shellfishing.


Recreational Permits

No DEC permit is required for recreational shellfish harvesting from state lands. Local towns have additional restrictions on catch limits, size limits, season, type of gear and may require residency and additional permits. Contact the town you're harvesting from for more information.

Commercial Permits

A Shellfish Digger Permit is required to harvest shellfish in excess of the recreational harvest limit. Check Marine Permits and Licenses for a complete list of commercial fishing permits.

Freshwater shellfish may only be taken or harvested with a license to collect or possess.

Possession Limits and Gear Restrictions

State law limits recreational harvest to no more than one bushel (combined total volume) of clams, oysters and mussels per day. In addition, one bushel of bay scallops per day may be taken during the season. The recreational regulations (PDF) are also available in a printable version.

Restrictions on Catch Limits
Species Size Limits Recreational Catch Limits Commercial
Catch Limits
Gear Restrictions
Hard clam 1 inch thickness across the hinge 100 clams Any Number No mechanical means. Rakes and tongs allowed.
Teeth - 1 in spacing Basket - 15/16 in spacing
Soft clam 1-1/2 in length 1/2 bushel Any Number No mechanical means except churning by propeller allowed below low tide
Oyster 3" longest diameter 1/2 bushel Any Number No mechanical means. Dredge with sail allowed on state land and in some towns. Size limit exempted for oysters cultured or transplanted under permit from DEC.
Blue mussel None 1/2 bushel Any number.
See Note 1
No mechanical means, except that dredges may be used in some areas.
Bank mussel None 1 bushel Any number No mechanical means
Bay scallop 2-1/4 inch length from mid hinge to mid bill and an annual growth ring 1 bushel 10 bu/person 20 bu/boat per day Dredges allowed, 36 inch max. width. Use of mechanical means to retrieve dredge prohibited. Use of dredge prohibited on Sunday. Size limit exempted for bay scallops cultured under permit from DEC.
Sea scallop None 1 bushel Any number None
Surfclam 3 inches
4 inches in Atlantic Ocean for use as food
1 bushel See Note 2 Special permit required for mechanical harvest
Ocean quahog None 1 bushel See Note 2 Special permit required for mechanical harvest

Note 1: 15 bushels/person of blue mussels by dredge allowed in certain areas. Further information is included with the commercial harvesting (diggers) permit.

Note 2: There are restrictions on mechanical harvesting for surfclams and ocean quahogs. Further information is included with the surfclam/ocean quahog mechanical harvesting permit.

Measuring Shellfish

Measuring Shellfish
Hard Clam Soft Clam Oyster Bay Scallop Surfclam
Measured by thickness Measured by length Measured by their longest diameter Measured by length from mid-hinge to mid bill
AND also display an annual growth ring.*
Measured by length
Image of a Hard Clam and an arrow showing how to measure it Image of a Soft Clam and an arrow showing how to measure it Image of a Oyster and an arrow showing how to measure it Image of a Surf Clam and an arrow showing how to measure it

*An annual growth rings forms on the scallop valve (shell) where the stoppage of growth during the winter meets new growth that resumes in the spring. The annual growth ring is typically raised and easy to see. You can check for the annual growth ring by running your fingernail from the shell edge to hinge; if it catches, this can be a good indicator of where the annual growth ring is. The growth ring can also be associated with a change in shell color and can typically be seen easier on the bottom shell. The length and growth ring are indicated to the right.

Annual growth rings may be confused with growth checks. Growth checks can occur any time during the growing season when the scallop is disturbed. Typically growth checks are not as pronounced as annual growth rings.

This information has been summarized from the NYS Environmental Conservation Law and NYS regulations. For other information, contact the Shellfisheries Bureau, 631-444-0492.