Stir up the cocktail sauce — it’s oyster season again.

The shellfish season for oyster and clam harvesting opens Oct. 1, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources has announced. The season continues until May 2014.

That means local oysters at the markets and plenty of reefs to pick your own.

Oyster harvesting is a long Lowcountry tradition; the South Carolina coast so far has escaped recreational harvest closings that are now found in other coastal areas where reefs have become severely depleted.

Twenty public harvest grounds are maintained in the state, including 12 in Charleston County totaling 100 acres. Maps can be downloaded at

Recreational harvesters are limited to two bushels and a permit must be bought.

All harvesters are encouraged to “cull in place,” leaving dead shells and smaller oysters on the reefs to keep them growing.